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Chronobiol Int. 2018 Feb;35(2):229-239. doi: 10.1080/07420528.2017.1394321. Epub 2017 Nov 16.

Bright-light exposure during daytime sleeping affects nocturnal melatonin secretion after simulated night work.

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a Kyoto university , Department of Human Health Sciences, Graduate school of Medicine , Kyoto , Japan.
b Research fellow of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science , Tokyo , Japan.
c Department of Human Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine , Kyoto University , Kyoto , Japan.


The guidelines for night and shift workers recommend that after night work, they should sleep in a dark environment during the daytime. However, staying in a dark environment during the daytime reduces nocturnal melatonin secretion and delays its onset. Daytime bright-light exposure after night work is important for melatonin synthesis the subsequent night and for maintaining the circadian rhythms. However, it is not clear whether daytime sleeping after night work should be in a dim- or a bright-light environment for maintaining melatonin secretion. The aim of this study, therefore, was to evaluate the effect of bright-light exposure during daytime sleeping on nocturnal melatonin secretion after simulated night work. Twelve healthy male subjects, aged 24.8 ± 4.6 (mean ± SD), participated in 3-day sessions under two experimental conditions, bright light or dim light, in a random order. On the first day, the subjects entered the experimental room at 16:00 and saliva samples were collected every hour between 18:00 and 00:00 under dim-light conditions. Between 00:00 and 08:00, they participated in tasks that simulated night work. At 10:00 the next morning, they slept for 6 hours under either a bright-light condition (>3000 lx) or a dim-light condition (<50 lx). In the evening, saliva samples were collected as on the first day. The saliva samples were analyzed for melatonin concentration. Activity and sleep times were recorded by a wrist device worn throughout the experiment. In the statistical analysis, the time courses of melatonin concentration were compared between the two conditions by three-way repeated measurements ANOVA (light condition, day and time of day). The change in dim light melatonin onset (ΔDLMO) between the first and second days, and daytime and nocturnal sleep parameters after the simulated night work were compared between the light conditions using paired t-tests. The ANOVA results indicated a significant interaction (light condition and3 day) (p = .006). Post hoc tests indicated that in the dim-light condition, the melatonin concentration was significantly lower on the second day than on the first day (p = .046); however, in the bright-light condition, there was no significant difference in the melatonin concentration between the days (p = .560). There was a significant difference in ΔDLMO between the conditions (p = .015): DLMO after sleeping was advanced by 11.1 ± 17.4 min under bright-light conditions but delayed for 7.2 ± 13.6 min after sleeping under dim-light conditions. No significant differences were found in any sleep parameter. Our study demonstrated that daytime sleeping under bright-light conditions after night work could not reduce late evening melatonin secretion until midnight or delay the phase of melatonin secretion without decreasing the quality of the daytime sleeping. Thus, these results suggested that, to enhance melatonin secretion and to maintain their conventional sleep-wake cycle, after night work, shift workers should sleep during the daytime under bright-light conditions rather than dim-light conditions.


daytime bright-light exposure; daytime sleeping; melatonin; simulated night work

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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