Circadian phase delay induced by phototherapeutic devices

University of Surrey, Guilford, England, United Kingdom
Aviation Space and Environmental Medicine (Impact Factor: 0.88). 08/2007; 78(7):645-52.
Source: PubMed


The Canadian Forces has initiated a multiple study project to optimize circadian phase changes using appropriately timed phototherapy and/or ingestion of melatonin for those personnel on long-range deployments and shift workers. The work reported here compared four phototherapeutic devices for efficacy in effecting circadian phase delays.
In a partially counterbalanced treatment order, 14 subjects (7 men and 7 women), ages 18-51 yr, participated in 5 weekly experimental sessions of phototherapy with 4 different phototherapy devices (light tower, light visor, Litebook, LED spectacles) and a no-phototherapy control. Phototherapy was applied from 24:00 to 02:00 on night. (1) Dim light melatonin onset (DLMO) was assessed on night 1 and night. (2) Subjects were tested for psychomotor performance (serial reaction time, logical reasoning, and serial subtraction tasks) and completed the Stanford Sleepiness Scale on night 1 at 19:00, 23:00, 01:00, 02:00, and 03:00. After phototherapy, subjects completed a phototherapy side-effects questionnaire.
All phototherapy devices produced melatonin suppression and significant phase delays. Sleepiness was significantly decreased with the light tower, the light visor, and the Litebook. Task performance was only slightly improved with phototherapy. The LED spectacles and light visor caused greater subjective performance impairment, more difficulty viewing the computer monitor and reading printed text than the light tower or the Litebook. The light visor, the Litebook, and the LED spectacles caused more eye discomfort than the light tower.
The light tower was the best device, producing melatonin suppression and circadian phase change while relatively free of side effects.

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    • "a light tower, for melatonin suppression and phase shifting, was best tolerated in laboratory experiments (Paul et al., 2007), but in another study its effects were short-lived compared to monochromatic blue light (Gooley et al., 2010). The authors of the latter report suggest that light treatment should be directed to both cone photoreceptors and melanopsin cells for maximum effect. "
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    ABSTRACT: At Arctic and Antarctic latitudes, personnel are deprived of natural sunlight in winter and have continuous daylight in summer: light of sufficient intensity and suitable spectral composition is the main factor that maintains the 24-h period of human circadian rhythms. Thus, the status of the circadian system is of interest. Moreover, the relatively controlled artificial light conditions in winter are conducive to experimentation with different types of light treatment. The hormone melatonin and/or its metabolite 6-sulfatoxymelatonin (aMT6s) provide probably the best index of circadian (and seasonal) timing. A frequent observation has been a delay of the circadian system in winter. A skeleton photoperiod (2×1-h, bright white light, morning and evening) can restore summer timing. A single 1-h pulse of light in the morning may be sufficient. A few people desynchronize from the 24-h day (free-run) and show their intrinsic circadian period, usually >24h. With regard to general health in polar regions, intermittent reports describe abnormalities in various physiological processes from the point of view of daily and seasonal rhythms, but positive health outcomes are also published. True winter depression (SAD) appears to be rare, although subsyndromal SAD is reported. Probably of most concern are the numerous reports of sleep problems. These have prompted investigations of the underlying mechanisms and treatment interventions. A delay of the circadian system with "normal" working hours implies sleep is attempted at a suboptimal phase. Decrements in sleep efficiency, latency, duration, and quality are also seen in winter. Increasing the intensity of ambient light exposure throughout the day advanced circadian phase and was associated with benefits for sleep: blue-enriched light was slightly more effective than standard white light. Effects on performance remain to be fully investigated. At 75°S, base personnel adapt the circadian system to night work within a week, in contrast to temperate zones where complete adaptation rarely occurs. A similar situation occurs on high-latitude North Sea oil installations, especially when working 18:0006:00h. Lack of conflicting light exposure (and "social obligations") is the probable explanation. Many have problems returning to day work, showing circadian desynchrony. Timed light treatment again has helped to restore normal phase/sleep in a small number of people. Postprandial response to meals is compromised during periods of desynchrony with evidence of insulin resistance and elevated triglycerides, risk factors for heart disease. Only small numbers of subjects have been studied intensively in polar regions; however, these observations suggest that suboptimal light conditions are deleterious to health. They apply equally to people living in temperate zones with insufficient light exposure. (Author correspondence: [email protected] /* */)
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2012 · Chronobiology International
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    • "Lamps and light-producing devices emitting exclusively or relatively more short-wavelength energy are now commercially available [18]. Compact fluorescent (CF) lamps that provide correlated lamp colour temperature (CCT) [in kelvin (K)], that indicate the relative proportion of warm versus cool colours in a light source, are very often sold, because of the low energy consumption and governmental regulations to replace traditional incandescent bulbs. "
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    ABSTRACT: Light exposure can cascade numerous effects on the human circadian process via the non-imaging forming system, whose spectral relevance is highest in the short-wavelength range. Here we investigated if commercially available compact fluorescent lamps with different colour temperatures can impact on alertness and cognitive performance. Sixteen healthy young men were studied in a balanced cross-over design with light exposure of 3 different light settings (compact fluorescent lamps with light of 40 lux at 6500K and at 2500K and incandescent lamps of 40 lux at 3000K) during 2 h in the evening. Exposure to light at 6500K induced greater melatonin suppression, together with enhanced subjective alertness, well-being and visual comfort. With respect to cognitive performance, light at 6500K led to significantly faster reaction times in tasks associated with sustained attention (Psychomotor Vigilance and GO/NOGO Task), but not in tasks associated with executive function (Paced Visual Serial Addition Task). This cognitive improvement was strongly related with attenuated salivary melatonin levels, particularly for the light condition at 6500K. Our findings suggest that the sensitivity of the human alerting and cognitive response to polychromatic light at levels as low as 40 lux, is blue-shifted relative to the three-cone visual photopic system. Thus, the selection of commercially available compact fluorescent lights with different colour temperatures significantly impacts on circadian physiology and cognitive performance at home and in the workplace.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2011 · PLoS ONE
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    • "Laboratory and field studies are now addressing how this sensitivity could be used to optimize light treatment for circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Several commercially available devices, primarily emitting light in the blue-green portion of the visible light spectrum, have been reported to induce phase delays of the circadian rhythm of melatonin (Paul et al., 2007). At light levels that are commonly used for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and circadian phase shifting in humans, we found no difference in the size of the phase advance in response to bright white or bright blue-enriched polychromatic light (Smith et al., 2009b). "
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    ABSTRACT: 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.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2009 · Chronobiology International
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