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Turn the lights off when you sleep to slow the aging process, study suggests

If you’re afraid of the dark or just prefer sleeping with a light on, you might want to read this. A new medical study suggests this will make you age faster, and potentially lead a host of other medical problems too.

There is already a good deal of research out there on the potential effects of overexposure to artificial light, ranging from poor sleep to a far more life-threatening illnesses. But these were mostly conclusions based on data, with little in the way of physical proof.

Related: Social media usage may lead to sleep deprivation

We may now have that. Researchers at Leiden University in the Netherlands exposed mice to artificial light for 24 weeks straight around the clock, with electrodes implanted its brain to measure changes in cells that control the internal body clock. The results were compared with a group of mice that were subjected to only normal day/night light.

In the mice under the 24-hour artificial lighting, researchers noticed its body clock shifted to a 25.5 hour daily cycle, and suffered from weakened muscles and reduced bone density at a far greater rate than the control mice. These are all signs of aging, and it appears as if these mice were aging quicker.

Researchers don’t yet know whether or not the advanced aging was due to the body clock changes or if it was due to poor sleep for such an extended period of time. 24 weeks is a sixth of a mouse’s life, so what’s happening here is the equivalent of an average human not getting a good night’s sleep for more than a decade.

This said, the mice were able to recover quickly once lighting patterns were returned to normal, indicating that in some way light exposure was leading to the health problems that the mice experienced. In other words, if you’re not feeling good and your spouse just can’t sleep with the light off, this might be the root cause of your ills.