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Randomized trial of polychromatic blue-enriched light for circadian phase shifting, melatonin suppression, and alerting responses

Hanifin, J.P., Lockley, S.W., Cecil, K., West, K., Jablonski, M., Warfield, B., James, M., Ayers, M., Byrne, B., Gerner, E., Pineda, C., Rollag, M., Brainard, G.C.
Physiology & behavior 2019 v.198 pp. 57-66
fluorescent lighting, melatonin, photons, protocols, sleep, wavelengths
Wavelength comparisons have indicated that circadian phase-shifting and enhancement of subjective and EEG-correlates of alertness have a higher sensitivity to short wavelength visible light. The aim of the current study was to test whether polychromatic light enriched in the blue portion of the spectrum (17,000 K) has increased efficacy for melatonin suppression, circadian phase-shifting, and alertness as compared to an equal photon density exposure to a standard white polychromatic light (4000 K). Twenty healthy participants were studied in a time-free environment for 7 days. The protocol included two baseline days followed by a 26-h constant routine (CR1) to assess initial circadian phase. Following CR1, participants were exposed to a full-field fluorescent light (1 × 1014 photons/cm2/s, 4000 K or 17,000 K, n = 10/condition) for 6.5 h during the biological night. Following an 8 h recovery sleep, a second 30-h CR was performed. Melatonin suppression was assessed from the difference during the light exposure and the corresponding clock time 24 h earlier during CR1. Phase-shifts were calculated from the clock time difference in dim light melatonin onset time (DLMO) between CR1 and CR2. Blue-enriched light caused significantly greater suppression of melatonin than standard light ((mean ± SD) 70.9 ± 19.6% and 42.8 ± 29.1%, respectively, p < 0.05). There was no significant difference in the magnitude of phase delay shifts. Blue-enriched light significantly improved subjective alertness (p < 0.05) but no differences were found for objective alertness. These data contribute to the optimization of the short wavelength-enriched spectra and intensities needed for circadian, neuroendocrine and neurobehavioral regulation.