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

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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
JournalJournal of Biological Rhythms
Issue number6
Early online date7-Sep-2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2018


  • alertness
  • daytime
  • light
  • neural mechanisms
  • quantification

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