The light levels required to maintain human circadian phase in the absence of other strong time cues are not defined. We investigated circadian phase in two groups of men, living in partial temporal isolation, exposed to 12 h:12 h light:dark cycles of: (A) 200: <8 lux, broad spectrum white light for 14 days; and (B) 1000: <8lux for 14 days. The rhythm variables measured were urinary 6-sulphatoxymelatonin, rectal temperature, activity and rest (actigraphy and sleep logs). In 200: <8 lux four/six individuals showed phase delays. Exposure to 1000: <8 lux appeared to maintain synchronisation of rest-activity to 24 h, but with a significant overall phase advance of 0.81 h in temperature. These observations suggest that domestic intensity light does not maintain phase without scheduled sleep/activity, possibly due to indirect effects on behaviour influencing light exposure.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.