Pregnant women advised to dim lights before bed to reduce diabetes risk, study says

Pregnant woman poses in window
A study's found pregnant women should to dim lights before bed to reduce diabetes risk. Photo credit: Getty Images

Women are often advised to focus on eating well and getting enough rest during pregnancy.

But according to new research, it might also be helpful for expectant mums to dim lights in their homes and avoid devices a few hours before bedtime too.

Following a study of over 700 participants, scientists from Northwestern University have reported that pregnant women who had greater light exposure three hours before sleep were more likely to develop gestational diabetes.

They did not differ in their light exposure during daytime or sleep or in their activity levels compared to those who did not develop it.

"Our study suggests that light exposure before bedtime may be an under-recognised yet easily modifiable risk factor of gestational diabetes," said lead study author Dr Minjee Kim.

Gestational diabetes, or high blood sugar, can develop at any stage of pregnancy but usually disappears after giving birth. Symptoms include increased thirst, urination, a dry mouth, blurred eyesight, and tiredness.

Dr Kim went on to emphasise that rates of gestational diabetes are on the rise around the world.

"It's alarming. Gestational diabetes is known to increase obstetric complications, and the mother's risk of diabetes, heart disease and dementia. The offspring also are more likely to have obesity and hypertension as they grow up," she continued, going on to note that it's difficult to pinpoint exactly which source of bright light causes the problem. "Try to reduce whatever light is in your environment in those three hours before you go to bed. It's best not to use your computer or phone during this period. But if you have to use them, keep the screens as dim as possible."

Full study results have been published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Maternal Foetal Medicine.