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J Biol Rhythms. 1995 Jun;10(2):135-47.

Light treatment for sleep disorders: consensus report. IV. Sleep phase and duration disturbances.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute, NY 10032, USA.


Advanced and delayed sleep phase disorders, and the hypersomnia that can accompany winter depression, have been treated successfully by appropriately timed artificial bright light exposure. Under entrainment to the 24-h day-night cycle, the sleep-wake pattern may assume various phase relationships to the circadian pacemaker, as indexed, for example, by abnormally long or short intervals between the onset of melatonin production or the core body temperature minimum and wake-up time. Advanced and delayed sleep phase syndromes and non-24-h sleep-wake syndrome have been variously ascribed to abnormal intrinsic circadian periodicity, deficiency of the entrainment mechanism, or--most simply--patterns of daily light exposure insufficient for adequate phase resetting. The timing of sleep is influenced by underlying circadian phase, but psychosocial constraints also play a major role. Exposure to light early or late in the subjective night has been used therapeutically to produce corrective phase delays or advances, respectively, in both the sleep pattern and circadian rhythms. Supplemental light exposure in fall and winter can reduce the hypersomnia of winter depression, although the therapeutic effect may be less dependent on timing.

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