Evening light exposure debilitates the circadian rhythm and elicits sleep disturbance. Blue light peak wavelengths, around 460 nm, suppress melatonin secretion via the non-image-forming system. The effects of nocturnal blue light exposure on sleep have been reported to be specific but rather small (MÃ¼nch, 2008). This study was designed to assess the effect of nocturnal blue light exposure on sleep and energy metabolism until noon the next day.
Materials and methods
Nine healthy male volunteers aged between 21 and 25 participated in this study which had a balanced cross-over design with intrasubject comparisons. After 2 h dark adaptation, the subjects were exposed to blue light or no light for 2 h. The peak wavelength of the blue LED was 465 nm, and the horizontal irradiance of the blue light at the height of eye was at 7.02fÃW/cm2. Sleep was recorded polysomnographically, and energy metabolism was measured with a whole body indirect calorimeter.
There were no significant differences in sleep architecture and energy metabolism during the night. However, dozing (stages 1 and 2) was significantly higher (26.0 < 29.4 vs 6.3 < 8.1 min, P < 0.05), and energy expenditure, O2 consumption, CO2 production and the thermic effect of food (increase in energy expenditure after breakfast) were significantly lower the following morning in the blue light exposure subjects.
Contrary to our expectation, sleep architecture and energy metabolism during sleep were not affected by evening exposure to blue light. It might be due to our milder intervention by which subjects in a sitting position did not gaze at the light source set on the ceiling, while the subjects in previous studies directly received brighter light via custom built goggles (Cajochen, 2005; MÃ¼nch, 2008) or gazed at a light source under the influence of mydriatic agents to dilate pupils (Brainard, 2001). New findings of the present study were that dozing (stages 1 and 2) was significantly increased, and energy metabolism was significantly lower the following morning in blue light exposed subjects. This suggests that modulation of the circadian rhythm is affected by nocturnal blue light exposure and the effect continues in the following daytime even if the intervention was mild.