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Kawasaki, A., Wisniewski, S., Healey, B., Pattyn, N., Kunz, D., Basner, M., et al. (2018). Impact of long-term daylight deprivation on retinal light sensitivity, circadian rhythms and sleep during the Antarctic winter. Sci Rep, 8(1).
Abstract: Long-term daylight deprivation such as during the Antarctic winter has been shown to lead to delayed sleep timing and sleep fragmentation. We aimed at testing whether retinal sensitivity, sleep and circadian rest-activity will change during long-term daylight deprivation on two Antarctic bases (Concordia and Halley VI) in a total of 25 healthy crew members (mean age: 34 ± 11y; 7f). The pupil responses to different light stimuli were used to assess retinal sensitivity changes. Rest-activity cycles were continuously monitored by activity watches. Overall, our data showed increased pupil responses under scotopic (mainly rod-dependent), photopic (mainly L-/M-cone dependent) as well as bright-blue light (mainly melanopsin-dependent) conditions during the time without direct sunlight. Circadian rhythm analysis revealed a significant decay of intra-daily stability, indicating more fragmented rest-activity rhythms during the dark period. Sleep and wake times (as assessed from rest-activity recordings) were significantly delayed after the first month without sunlight (p < 0.05). Our results suggest that during long-term daylight deprivation, retinal sensitivity to blue light increases, whereas circadian rhythm stability decreases and sleep-wake timing is delayed.