Early evening light mitigates sleep compromising physiological and alerting responses to subsequent late evening light

Marije te Kulve (Corresponding author), Luc J.M. Schlangen, Wouter D. van Marken Lichtenbelt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

The widespread use of electric light and electronic devices has resulted in an excessive exposure to light during the late-evening and at night. This late light exposure acutely suppresses melatonin and sleepiness and delays the circadian clock. Here we investigate whether the acute effects of late-evening light exposure on our physiology and sleepiness are reduced when this light exposure is preceded by early evening bright light. Twelve healthy young females were included in a randomised crossover study. All participants underwent three evening (18:30-00:30) sessions during which melatonin, subjective sleepiness, body temperature and skin blood flow were measured under different light conditions: (A) dim light, (B) dim light with a late-evening (22:30-23:30) light exposure of 750 lx, 4000 K, and (C) the same late-evening light exposure, but now preceded by early-evening bright light exposure (18.30-21.00; 1200 lx, 4000 K). Late-evening light exposure reduced melatonin levels and subjective sleepiness and resulted in larger skin temperature gradients as compared to dim. Interestingly, these effects were reduced when the late-evening light was preceded by an early evening 2.5-hour bright light exposure. Thus daytime and early-evening exposure to bright light can mitigate some of the sleep-disruptive consequences of light exposure in the later evening.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16064
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

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