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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2013, 14(2), 2573-2589; doi:10.3390/ijms14022573

Out of the Lab and into the Bathroom: Evening Short-Term Exposure to Conventional Light Suppresses Melatonin and Increases Alertness Perception

1,* , 1
1 Institute of Physiology, Charité–Universitätsmedizin Berlin (CBF), 10115 Berlin, Germany 2 Trilux GmbH & Co.KG, 59759 Arnsberg, Germany 3 Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP), 17489 Greifswald, Germany 4 German Heart Institute, 13353 Berlin, Germany
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 November 2012 / Revised: 23 December 2012 / Accepted: 16 January 2013 / Published: 28 January 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in the Research of Melatonin)
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Life in 24-h society relies on the use of artificial light at night that might disrupt synchronization of the endogenous circadian timing system to the solar day. This could have a negative impact on sleep–wake patterns and psychiatric symptoms. The aim of the study was to investigate the influence of evening light emitted by domestic and work place lamps in a naturalistic setting on melatonin levels and alertness in humans. Healthy subjects (6 male, 3 female, 22–33 years) were exposed to constant dim light (<10 lx) for six evenings from 7:00 p.m. to midnight. On evenings 2 through 6, 1 h before habitual bedtime, they were also exposed to light emitted by 5 different conventional lamps for 30 min. Exposure to yellow light did not alter the increase of melatonin in saliva compared to dim light baseline during (38 ± 27 pg/mL vs. 39 ± 23 pg/mL) and after light exposure (39 ± 22 pg/mL vs. 44 ± 26 pg/mL). In contrast, lighting conditions including blue components reduced melatonin increase significantly both during (office daylight white: 25 ± 16 pg/mL, bathroom daylight white: 24 ± 10 pg/mL, Planon warm white: 26 ± 14 pg/mL, hall daylight white: 22 ± 14 pg/mL) and after light exposure (office daylight white: 25 ± 15 pg/mL, bathroom daylight white: 23 ± 9 pg/mL, Planon warm white: 24 ± 13 pg/mL, hall daylight white: 22 ± 26 pg/mL). Subjective alertness was significantly increased after exposure to three of the lighting conditions which included blue spectral components in their spectra. Evening exposure to conventional lamps in an everyday setting influences melatonin excretion and alertness perception within 30 min.
Keywords: melatonin; circadian rhythm; light; sleep disturbances; alertness melatonin; circadian rhythm; light; sleep disturbances; alertness
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Wahnschaffe, A.; Haedel, S.; Rodenbeck, A.; Stoll, C.; Rudolph, H.; Kozakov, R.; Schoepp, H.; Kunz, D. Out of the Lab and into the Bathroom: Evening Short-Term Exposure to Conventional Light Suppresses Melatonin and Increases Alertness Perception. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2013, 14, 2573-2589.

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