The spectral composition of evening light and individual differences in the suppression of melatonin and delay of sleep in humans

Journal of Pineal Research (Impact Factor: 9.6). 10/2011; 53(1). DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-079X.2011.00970.x


  The effect of light on circadian rhythms and sleep is mediated by a multi-component photoreceptive system of rods, cones and melanopsin-expressing intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells. The intensity and spectral sensitivity characteristics of this system are to be fully determined. Whether the intensity and spectral composition of light exposure at home in the evening is such that it delays circadian rhythms and sleep also remains to be established. We monitored light exposure at home during 6–8 wk and assessed light effects on sleep and circadian rhythms in the laboratory. Twenty-two women and men (23.1 ± 4.7 yr) participated in a six-way, cross-over design using polychromatic light conditions relevant to the light exposure at home, but with reduced, intermediate or enhanced efficacy with respect to the photopic and melanopsin systems. The evening rise of melatonin, sleepiness and EEG-assessed sleep onset varied significantly (P < 0.01) across the light conditions, and these effects appeared to be largely mediated by the melanopsin, rather than the photopic system. Moreover, there were individual differences in the sensitivity to the disruptive effect of light on melatonin, which were robust against experimental manipulations (intra-class correlation = 0.44). The data show that light at home in the evening affects circadian physiology and imply that the spectral composition of artificial light can be modified to minimize this disruptive effect on sleep and circadian rhythms. These findings have implications for our understanding of the contribution of artificial light exposure to sleep and circadian rhythm disorders such as delayed sleep phase disorder.

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    • "Since the introduction of the spectral watches, researchers have begun to measure the spectral information of light exposures for their studies using this kind of device (e.g. Santhi et al., 2012a, 2012b; Thorne et al., 2009). However, the spectral sensitivity functions of the color sensors from the spectral watches may be widely different among different brands (Figueiro et al., 2013), and even among different watches within the same brand (Price et al., 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: The intrinsic circadian clock requires photoentrainment to synchronize the 24-hour solar day. Therefore, light stimulation is an important component of chronobiological research. Currently, the chronobiological research field overwhelmingly uses photopic illuminance that is based on the luminous efficiency function, V(λ), to quantify light levels. However, recent discovery of intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs), which are activated by self-containing melanopsin photopigment and also by inputs from rods and cones, makes light specification using a one-dimensional unit inadequate. Since the current understanding of how different photoreceptor inputs contribute to the circadian system through ipRGCs is limited, it is recommended to specify light in terms of the excitations of five photoreceptors (S-, M-, L-cones, rods and ipRGCs)(Lucas, Peirson et al., 2014). In the current study, we assessed whether the spectral outputs from a commercially available spectral watch (i.e., Actiwatch Spectrum) could be used to estimate photoreceptor excitations. Based on the color sensor spectral sensitivity functions from a previously published work, as well as from our measurements, we computed spectral outputs in the long-wavelength range (R), middle-wavelength range (G), short-wavelength range (B) and broadband range (W) under 52 CIE illuminants (25 daylight illuminants, 27 fluorescent lights). We also computed the photoreceptor excitations for each illuminant using human photoreceptor spectral sensitivity functions. Linear regression analyses indicated that the Actiwatch spectral outputs could predict photoreceptor excitations reliably, under the assumption of linear responses of the Actiwatch color sensors. In addition, R, G, B outputs could classify illuminant types (fluorescent vs. daylight illuminants) satisfactorily. However, the assessment of actual Actiwatch recording under several testing light sources showed that the spectral outputs were subject to great nonlinearity, leading to less accurate estimation of photoreceptor excitations. Based on our analyses, we recommend that each spectral watch should be calibrated to measure spectral sensitivity functions and linearization characteristics for each sensor to have an accurate estimation of photoreceptor excitations. The method we provided to estimate photoreceptor excitations from the outputs of spectral watches could be used for chronobiological studies that can tolerate an error in the range of 0.2-0.5 log units. Our method can be easily expanded to incorporate linearization functions to have more accurate estimations.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Chronobiology International
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    • "Furthermore, melanopsin has a characteristic spectral sensitivity λmax around 480 nm. The effect of light with a high-color temperature (that is, blue-enriched) on melatonin suppression or sleep has been investigated [34-36]. Also, in our previous study, we found that the difference between OPN4*Ile394Thr genotypes in PLR depends on light wavelength: greater differences were observed with a short wavelength light [13]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background In our previous studies, we found that the Ile394Thr SNP in the melanopsin gene (OPN4) was functionally associated with the pupillary light reflex. This indicates the possibility that OPN4*Ile394Thr is associated with other non-image forming responses. The aim of this study was therefore to determine whether OPN4*Ile394Thr is associated with sleep/wake timing. Methods A total of 348 healthy Japanese university students participated in this study. Scalp hair was used to genotype the Ile394Thr SNP of OPN4. Sleep habits, including bedtime, wake time and sleep duration, were assessed separately for weekdays and weekends. A total of 328 samples, including 223 samples with TT genotype, 91 with TC genotype and 14 with CC genotype, were used for statistical analysis. No significant difference in age or male/female distribution was found among the three genotype groups. Results There was no significant difference in circadian preference among the genotype groups. During weekdays, bedtime, wake time and midpoint of sleep for CC subjects were significantly later than those for TT and TC subjects. However, there was no difference between TT and TC subjects in any of their sleep habits. During weekends, bedtime of CC subjects was significantly later than those of TT and TC subjects, and the midpoint of sleep of CC subjects was significantly later than that of TC subjects. Conclusions Our findings demonstrated that OPN4*Ile394Thr is associated with sleep/wake timing. We also found that the sleep/wake timing of subjects with the CC genotype was later than that of subjects with the TT or TC genotype.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Journal of PHYSIOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY
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    • "Here, we asked whether modifying the composition of artificial light by making it brighter or blue-enhanced might reduce morning sleep inertia. Because, during the winter, in the higher latitudes, people wake up in darkness and turn on artificial light a few minutes later, we chose to simulate this morning light experience at home [51]. Although similar in composition to the artificial light at home, the four experimental light conditions varied in intensity and/or spectral composition, specifically in blue wavelength (Figure 4). "
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    ABSTRACT: The transition from sleep to wakefulness entails a temporary period of reduced alertness and impaired performance known as sleep inertia. The extent to which its severity varies with task and cognitive processes remains unclear. We examined sleep inertia in alertness, attention, working memory and cognitive throughput with the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale (KSS), the Psychomotor Vigilance Task (PVT), n-back and add tasks, respectively. The tasks were administered 2 hours before bedtime and at regular intervals for four hours, starting immediately after awakening in the morning, in eleven participants, in a four-way cross-over laboratory design. We also investigated whether exposure to Blue-Enhanced or Bright Blue-Enhanced white light would reduce sleep inertia. Alertness and all cognitive processes were impaired immediately upon awakening (p<0.01). However, alertness and sustained attention were more affected than cognitive throughput and working memory. Moreover, speed was more affected than accuracy of responses. The light conditions had no differential effect on performance except in the 3-back task (p<0.01), where response times (RT) at the end of four hours in the two Blue-Enhanced white light conditions were faster (200 ms) than at wake time. We conclude that the effect of sleep inertia varies with cognitive domain and that it's spectral/intensity response to light is different from that of sleepiness. That is, just increasing blue-wavelength in light may not be sufficient to reduce sleep inertia. These findings have implications for critical professions like medicine, law-enforcement etc., in which, personnel routinely wake up from night-time sleep to respond to emergency situations.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · PLoS ONE
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