We tested the effect of different lights as a countermeasure against sleep-loss decrements in alertness, melatonin and cortisol profile, skin temperature and wrist motor activity in healthy young and older volunteers under extendend wakefulness. 26 young [mean (SE): 25.0 (0.6) y)] and 12 older participants [(mean (SE): 63.6 (1.3) y)] underwent 40-h of sustained wakefulness during 3 balanced crossover segments, once under dim light (DL: 8 lx), and once under either white light (WL: 250 lx, 2,800 K) or blue-enriched white light (BL: 250 lx, 9,000 K) exposure. Subjective sleepiness, melatonin and cortisol were assessed hourly. Skin temperature and wrist motor activity were continuously recorded. WL and BL induced an alerting response in both the older (p = 0.005) and the young participants (p = 0.021). The evening rise in melatonin was attentuated under both WL and BL only in the young. Cortisol levels were increased and activity levels decreased in the older compared to the young only under BL (p = 0.0003). Compared to the young, both proximal and distal skin temperatures were lower in older participants under all lighting conditions. Thus the color temperature of normal intensity lighting may have differential effects on circadian physiology in young and older individuals.