Light at night in older age is associated with obesity, diabetes, and hypertension

Light at night (LAN) has been associated with negative health consequences and metabolic risk factors. Little is known about the prevalence of LAN in older adults in the U.S. and its association with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. We tested the hypothesis that LAN in older age is associated with higher prevalence of individual CVD risk factors. 552 community-dwelling adults aged 63-84 underwent an examination of CVD risk factor profiles and 7-day actigraphy recording for activity and light measures. Associations between actigraphy-measured LAN, defined as no light vs. light within the 5-hour nadir (L5), and CVD risk factors, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia, were examined, after adjusting for age, sex, race, season of recording, and sleep variables. LAN exposure was associated with a higher prevalence of obesity (multivariable-adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.82 (95% CI 1.26-2.65)), diabetes (OR 2.00 (1.19-3.43)), and hypertension (OR 1.74 (1.21-2.52)) but not with hypercholesterolemia. LAN was also associated with (1) later timing of lowest light exposure (L5-light) and lowest activity (L5-activity), (2) lower inter-daily stability and amplitude of light exposure and activity, and (3) higher wake after sleep onset.

Habitual LAN in older age is associated with concurrent obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Further research is needed to understand long-term effects of LAN on cardiometabolic risks.