To evaluate the effect of increasing the intensity and/or duration of exposure on light-induced changes in the timing of the circadian clock of humans.
Multifactorial randomized controlled trial, between and within subject design
General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) of an academic medical center
56 healthy young subjects (20-40 years of age)
Research subjects were admitted for 2 independent stays of 4 nights/3 days for treatment with bright or dim-light (randomized order) at a time known to induce phase delays in circadian timing. The intensity and duration of the bright light were determined by random assignment to one of 9 treatment conditions (duration of 1, 2, or 3 hours at 2000, 4000, or 8000 lux).
Measurements and Results:
Treatment-induced changes in the dim light melatonin onset (DLMO) and dim light melatonin offset (DLMOff) were measured from blood samples collected every 20-30 min throughout baseline and post-treatment nights. Comparison by multi-factor analysis of variance (ANOVA) of light-induced changes in the time of the circadian melatonin rhythm for the 9 conditions revealed that changing the duration of the light exposure from 1 to 3 h increased the magnitude of light-induced delays. In contrast, increasing from moderate (2,000 lux) to high (8,000 lux) intensity light did not alter the magnitude of phase delays of the circadian melatonin rhythm.
Results from the present study suggest that for phototherapy of circadian rhythm sleep disorders in humans, a longer period of moderate intensity light may be more effective than a shorter exposure period of high intensity light.
Dewan K; Benloucif S; Reid K; Wolfe LF; Zee PC. Light-induced changes of the circadian clock of humans: increasing duration is more effective than increasing light intensity. SLEEP 2011;34(5):593-599.