Light, alertness, and alerting effects of white light: a literature overview

Renske Lok, Karin C.H.J. Smolders, Domien G.M. Beersma, Yvonne A.W. de Kort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)
153 Downloads (Pure)


Light is known to elicit non-image-forming responses, such as effects on alertness. This has been reported especially during light exposure at night. Nighttime results might not be translatable to the day. This article aims to provide an overview of (1) neural mechanisms regulating alertness, (2) ways of measuring and quantifying alertness, and (3) the current literature specifically regarding effects of different intensities of white light on various measures and correlates of alertness during the daytime. In general, the present literature provides inconclusive results on alerting effects of the intensity of white light during daytime, particularly for objective measures and correlates of alertness. However, the various research paradigms employed in earlier studies differed substantially, and most studies tested only a limited set of lighting conditions. Therefore, the alerting potential of exposure to more intense white light should be investigated in a systematic, dose-dependent manner with multiple correlates of alertness and within one experimental paradigm over the course of day.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-601
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Rhythms
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • alertness
  • daytime
  • light
  • neural mechanisms
  • quantification
  • Circadian Rhythm/physiology
  • Humans
  • Light
  • Electroencephalography
  • Attention/physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Wakefulness/drug effects


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