Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1998;24 suppl 3:115-120    pdf

Effect of bright light at night on core temperature, subjective alertness and performance as a function of exposure time

by Foret J, Daurat A, Tirilly G

Objectives This simulated night shift study measured the effects of moderate bright light (a 4-hour pulse starting at 2000 or 0400) during the exposure night and subsequent night (dim light).

Methods Eight young males remained confined with little physical activity to a laboratory in groups of 4. After a night of reference, they were active for 24 hours; then after a morning recovery sleep, they were active again for 16 hours.

Results Continuously measured rectal temperature proved to be immediately sensitive to 4 hours of bright light, particularly when given at the end of the night. Self-assessed alertness and also performance on a task with a high requirement for short-term memory were improved by the exposure to bright light. During the subsequent night the subjects were exposed only to dim light. Core temperature, subjective alertness and performance continued to show a time course depending on the preceding bright light exposure.

Conclusion Probably because evening exposure to bright light and morning sleep both had a phase-delaying effect, the effects on the circadian pacemaker were more pronounced. Thus, for practical applications in long night shifts, bright light can be considered to improve mood and alertness immediately but the possibility of modifying the circadian "clock" during subsequent nights should be taken into consideration, in particular after exposure to bright light in the evening.

The following article refers to this text: 2003;29(1):22-26