Phase Delaying the Human Circadian Clock with Blue-Enriched Polychromatic Light

Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.
Chronobiology International (Impact Factor: 3.34). 06/2009; 26(4):709-25. DOI: 10.1080/07420520902927742
Source: PubMed


The human circadian system is maximally sensitive to short-wavelength (blue) light. In a previous study we found no difference between the magnitude of phase advances produced by bright white versus bright blue-enriched light using light boxes in a practical protocol that could be used in the real world. Since the spectral sensitivity of the circadian system may vary with a circadian rhythm, we tested whether the results of our recent phase-advancing study hold true for phase delays. In a within-subjects counterbalanced design, this study tested whether bright blue-enriched polychromatic light (17000 K, 4000 lux) could produce larger phase delays than bright white light (4100 K, 5000 lux) of equal photon density (4.2x10(15) photons/cm(2)/sec). Healthy young subjects (n = 13) received a 2 h phase delaying light pulse before bedtime combined with a gradually delaying sleep/dark schedule on each of 4 consecutive treatment days. On the first treatment day the light pulse began 3 h after the dim light melatonin onset (DLMO). An 8 h sleep episode began at the end of the light pulse. Light treatment and the sleep schedule were delayed 2 h on each subsequent treatment day. A circadian phase assessment was conducted before and after the series of light treatment days to determine the time of the DLMO and DLMOff. Phase delays in the blue-enriched and white conditions were not significantly different (DLMO: -4.45+/-2.02 versus -4.48+/-1.97 h; DLMOff: -3.90+/-1.97 versus -4.35+/-2.39 h, respectively). These results indicate that at light levels commonly used for circadian phase shifting, blue-enriched polychromatic light is no more effective than the white polychromatic lamps of a lower correlated color temperature (CCT) for phase delaying the circadian clock.

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    • "Although studies have shown that short-wavelength light or “blue-enriched” light sources can be effective at correcting circadian sleep disorders,24,25 other studies failed to show differences between lamps of different correlated color temperatures (CCTs). Smith and Eastman26 compared the effectiveness of a 17,000 K lamp and a 4,100 K lamp in phase shifting the human circadian clock, under controlled laboratory conditions. The researchers did not find any significant differences between the light sources, most likely because they were using light levels above the saturation response of the circadian system. "
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