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Sleep Breath. 2014 Dec;18(4):829-35. doi: 10.1007/s11325-014-0951-7. Epub 2014 Feb 13.

Effects of environment light during sleep on autonomic functions of heart rate and breathing.

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Second Department of Internal Medicine (Department of Respiratory Medicine), Nara Medical University, 840 Shijo-cho, Kashihara, Nara, 634-8522, Japan,



Poor sleep hygiene including sleeping in the daytime or with the lights on at night is discovered during the assessment of many sleep disorders including sleep apnea. The aim of this study was to investigate whether environmental light affected autonomic control of heart rate, sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), and/or breathing patterning.


Seventeen non-obese healthy volunteers without witnessed snoring and apneas were recruited. Studies were performed at home using a type 3 portable monitor combined with actigraphy for sleep-wake timing, using a randomly assigned, crossover between dark, or 1,000 lx of fluorescent lighting environment. The outcomes were low-frequency power divided by high-frequency power (LF/HF ratio) in the analysis of heart rate variability, the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), and ventilatory pattern variability before and after sleep onset between environments.


The LF/HF ratio and AHI were both significantly higher in light as compared to dark. Before sleep onset, the coefficient of variation (CV) for breath-to-breath tidal volume representing breathing irregularity tended to be higher in light than in dark environment. The CV values for tidal volume after sleep onset were significantly decreased compared with before sleep onset in both sleep environments. Mutual information of the ventilatory pattern was significantly lower before sleep onset than after sleep onset, only in the light environment.


Sleeping in the light has effects like that of a stressor as it is associated with neuroexcitation, SDB, and resting breathing irregularity in healthy volunteers. These findings may be relevant to many sleep disorders associated with poor sleep hygiene.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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