*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
New research is suggesting links between street lights, neon signs, and other forms of nighttime outside lighting and sleeplessness and mood disorders among teens.
The study of more than 10,000 American kids aged 13 to 18 couldn’t prove cause and effect. However, it found that teens living in areas with high levels of artificial outdoor light at night went to bed about 29 minutes later, on average, and got 11 fewer minutes of sleep, compared to teens in areas with the lowest levels of outdoor nighttime light.
What’s more, greater levels of artificial light were also associated with increased risk of a teen developing a mood or anxiety disorder.
Specifically, teens exposed to higher levels of artificial light at night were more likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder or specific phobia, according to researchers led by Diana Paksarian, a postdoctoral research fellow at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
“Environmental light exposure is only one factor in a more complex network of influences on sleep and behavior,” stressed study co-author Kathleen Merikangas, senior investigator and chief of the Genetic Epidemiology Research Branch at the NIMH. But she believes it could be “an important target for prevention and interventions in adolescent health.”
As the researchers explained in an institute news release, sleep and circadian rhythm disruptions are features of certain mental disorders, including bipolar disorder. So, disrupted sleep might be the link connecting artificial nighttime light exposures and mental health disorders — something that should be examined in future studies.
The study was published online in JAMA Psychiatry.