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Dominoni, D. M., Carmona-Wagner, E. O., Hofmann, M., Kranstauber, B., & Partecke, J. (2014). Individual-based measurements of light intensity provide new insights into the effects of artificial light at night on daily rhythms of urban-dwelling songbirds. J Anim Ecol, 83(3), 681â692.
The growing interest in the effects of light pollution on daily and seasonal cycles of animals has led to a boost of research in recent years. In birds, it has been hypothesized that artificial light at night can affect daily aspects of behaviour, but one caveat is the lack of knowledge about the light intensity that wild animals, such as birds, are exposed to during the night.
Organisms have naturally evolved daily rhythms to adapt to the 24-h cycle of day and night, thus, it is important to investigate the potential shifts in daily cycles due to global anthropogenic processes such as urbanization.
We captured adult male European blackbirds (Turdus merula) in one rural forest and two urban sites differing in the degree of anthropogenic disturbance. We tagged these birds with light loggers and simultaneously recorded changes in activity status (active/non-active) through an automated telemetry system. We first analysed the relationship between light at night, weather conditions and date with daily activity onset and end. We then compared activity, light at night exposure and noise levels between weekdays and weekends.
Onset of daily activity was significantly advanced in both urban sites compared to the rural population, while end of daily activity did not vary either among sites. Birds exposed to higher amounts of light in the late night showed earlier onset of activity in the morning, but light at night did not influence end of daily activity. Light exposure at night and onset/end of daily activity timing was not different between weekdays and weekends, but all noise variables were. A strong seasonal effect was detected in both urban and rural populations, such as birds tended to be active earlier in the morning and later in the evening (relative to civil twilight) in the early breeding season than at later stages.
Our results point at artificial light at night as a major driver of change in timing of daily activity. Future research should focus on the costs and benefits of altered daily rhythmicity in birds thriving in urban areas.
Griepentrog, J. E., Labiner, H. E., Gunn, S. R., & Rosengart, M. R. (2018). Bright environmental light improves the sleepiness of nightshift ICU nurses. Crit Care, 22(1), 295.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Shift work can disturb circadian homeostasis and result in fatigue, excessive sleepiness, and reduced quality of life. Light therapy has been shown to impart positive effects in night shift workers. We sought to determine whether or not prolonged exposure to bright light during a night shift reduces sleepiness and enhances psychomotor performance among ICU nurses.
METHODS: This is a single-center randomized, crossover clinical trial at a surgical trauma ICU. ICU nurses working a night shift were exposed to a 10-h period of high illuminance (1500-2000 lx) white light compared to standard ambient fluorescent lighting of the hospital. They then completed the Stanford Sleepiness Scale and the Psychomotor Vigilance Test. The primary and secondary endpoints were analyzed using the paired t test. A p value <0.05 was considered significant.
RESULTS: A total of 43 matched pairs completed both lighting exposures and were analyzed. When exposed to high illuminance lighting subjects experienced reduced sleepiness scores on the Stanford Sleepiness Scale than when exposed to standard hospital lighting: mean (sem) 2.6 (0.2) vs. 3.0 (0.2), p = 0.03. However, they committed more psychomotor errors: 2.3 (0.2) vs. 1.7 (0.2), p = 0.03.
CONCLUSIONS: A bright lighting environment for ICU nurses working the night shift reduces sleepiness but increases the number of psychomotor errors.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03331822 . Retrospectively registered on 6 November 2017.
Harrison, E. M., & Gorman, M. R. (2012). Changing the waveform of circadian rhythms: considerations for shift-work. Front Neurol, 3, 72.
Abstract: Circadian disruption in shift-work is common and has deleterious effects on health and performance. Current efforts to mitigate these harms reasonably focus on the phase of the circadian pacemaker, which unfortunately in humans, shifts slowly and often incompletely. Temporal reorganization of rhythmic waveform (i.e., the shape of its 24 h oscillation), rather than phase, however, may better match performance demands of shift-workers and can be quickly and feasibly implemented in animals. In fact, a bifurcated pacemaker waveform may permit stable entrainment of a bimodal sleep/wake rhythm promoting alertness in both night and daylight hours. Although bifurcation has yet to be formally assessed in humans, evidence of conserved properties of circadian organization and plasticity predict its occurrence: humans respond to conventional manipulations of waveform (e.g., photoperiodism); behaviorally, the sleep/wake rhythm is adaptable; and finally, the human circadian system likely derives from the same multiple cellular oscillators that permit waveform flexibility in the rodent pacemaker. In short, investigation into untried manipulations of waveform in humans to facilitate adjustment to challenging schedules is justified.