Circadian phase-shifting effects of a laboratory environment: A clinical trial with bright and dim light

Shawn D. Youngstedt, Daniel F. Kripke, Jeffrey A. Elliott, Katharine M. Rex

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Our aims were to examine the influence of different bright light schedules on mood, sleep, and circadian organization in older adults (n = 60, ages 60-79 years) with insomnia and/or depression, contrasting with responses of young, healthy controls (n = 30, ages 20-40 years). Methods: Volunteers were assessed for one week in their home environments. Urine was collected over two 24-hour periods to establish baseline acrophase of 6-sulphatoxymelatonin (aMT6s) excretion. Immediately following home recording, volunteers spent five nights and four days in the laboratory. Sleep periods were fixed at eight hours in darkness, consistent with the volunteers' usual sleep periods. Volunteers were randomly assigned to one of three light treatments (four hours per day) within the wake period: (A) two hours of 3,000 lux at 1-3 hours and 13-15 hours after arising; (B) four hours of 3,000 lux at 6-10 hours after arising; (C) four hours of dim placebo light at 6-10 hours after arising. Lighting was 50 lux during the remainder of wakefulness. The resulting aMT6s acrophase was determined during the final 30 hours in the laboratory. Results: Neither mood nor total melatonin excretion differed significantly by treatment. For the three light treatments, significant and similar phase-response plots were found, indicating that the shift in aMT6s acrophase was dependent upon the circadian time of treatment. The changes in circadian timing were not significantly correlated to changes in sleep or mood. Conclusion: The trial failed to demonstrate photoperiodic effects. The results suggest that even low levels of illumination and/or fixed timing of behavior had significant phase-shifting effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11
JournalJournal of Circadian Rhythms
StatePublished - Sep 9 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems


Dive into the research topics of 'Circadian phase-shifting effects of a laboratory environment: A clinical trial with bright and dim light'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this