Artificial Light Might Trigger Depression

Artificial Light Might Trigger Depression

We’ve pointed out numerous times that staring at bright screens such as tablets or laptops in bed has a bad effect on your sleep patterns and your overall health. Now one study hints at an possible link between regular exposure to artificial light and levels of depression.

Picture by Danny Nicholson

The research, published in Molecular Psychiatry, investigated the effect of artificial light (known as LAN in the research) on brain indicators in female hamsters than had previously been linked to depression. The results “suggest that environmental changes such as LAN exposure may warrant more attention as possible contributors to the rising rates of mood disorders,” the announcement of the study notes.

It’s only a single study, and there isn’t direct comparable data for human subjects. But not using your tablet immediately before sleep still sounds wise to us.

Chronic dim light at night provokes reversible depression-like
phenotype: possible role for TNF
[Molecular Psychiatry]


  • Disclaimer: This is 3rd-hand information, but I heard from a respectable clinician at uni that fluorescent lights in particular are pretty bad for you, with research demonstrating disruption of riboflavin pathways amongst other things. Eek!

  • I have always made it a habit to turn down/off any unnecessary lights on night shifts purely on the fact that I can feel that they annoy me at some conscious level.

    Also have found this program called f.lux that automatically reduces the brightness of your monitor at night (there is a version for Android by chainfire but you need a rooted device for it and there were issues with it on ics the last time i had a look at it sadly)

  • Is it an increase in artificial light or that this increase comes at the cost of decreased exposure to natural light? Coming from (rather less sunny than here) Scotland, I know about Seasonal Affected Disorder (yep, SAD) where the lack of daylight in winter can have a serious effect on people’s moods. My Australian wife suffered from it when we lived there and the effects were pretty much fixed by light therapy, i.e. sitting in front of a light box which used full spectrum fluorescent tubes.

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