In a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, West Virginia University neuroscientists linked white light at night—the kind that typically illuminates hospital rooms—to inflammation, brain-cell death and higher mortality risk in cardiac patients.
Randy Nelson, who chairs the Department of Neuroscience in the WVU School of Medicine, and Courtney DeVries, the John T. and June R. Chambers Chair of Oncology Research at WVU, re-created cardiac arrest in animal models. Doing so temporarily interrupted the brain’s oxygen supply. Then the researchers and their colleagues divided the models into three groups that would spend their nights in—respectively—dim red light, dim white light and the dark.
After seven nights of this regimen, the researchers evaluated the health of the models’ brain cells. Exposure to white light at night caused multiple poor outcomes. The researchers’ findings are published in Experimental Neurology.