Time-of-day-dependent effects of bright light exposure on human psychophysiology: comparison of daytime and nighttime exposure

M Ruger*, MCM Gordijn, DGM Beersma, B de Vries, S Daan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

172 Citations (Scopus)
537 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Bright light can influence human psychophysiology instantaneously by inducing endocrine ( suppression of melatonin, increasing cortisol levels), other physiological changes ( enhancement of core body temperature), and psychological changes ( reduction of sleepiness, increase of alertness). Its broad range of action is reflected in the wide field of applications, ranging from optimizing a work environment to treating depressed patients. For optimally applying bright light and understanding its mechanism, it is crucial to know whether its effects depend on the time of day. In this paper, we report the effects of bright light given at two different times of day on psychological and physiological parameters. Twenty-four subjects participated in two experiments ( n = 12 each). All subjects were nonsmoking, healthy young males ( 18 - 30 yr). In both experiments, subjects were exposed to either bright light ( 5,000 lux) or dim light <10 lux ( control condition) either between 12: 00 P. M. and 4: 00 P. M. ( experiment A) or between midnight and 4: 00 A. M. ( experiment B). Hourly measurements included salivary cortisol concentrations, electrocardiogram, sleepiness (Karolinska Sleepiness Scale), fatigue, and energy ratings ( Visual Analog Scale). Core body temperature was measured continuously throughout the experiments. Bright light had a time-dependent effect on heart rate and core body temperature; i.e., bright light exposure at night, but not in daytime, increased heart rate and enhanced core body temperature. It had no significant effect at all on cortisol. The effect of bright light on the psychological variables was time independent, since nighttime and daytime bright light reduced sleepiness and fatigue significantly and similarly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R1413-R1420
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of physiology-Regulatory integrative and comparative physiology
Volume290
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May-2006

Keywords

  • sleepiness
  • core body temperature
  • cortisol
  • heart rate
  • VENTROLATERAL PREOPTIC NUCLEUS
  • PHASE RESPONSE CURVE
  • SUPRACHIASMATIC NUCLEUS
  • HEART-RATE
  • INDIRECT PROJECTIONS
  • BODY-TEMPERATURE
  • SLEEP
  • ALERTNESS
  • MELATONIN
  • PERFORMANCE

Cite this