Phase advancing the human circadian clock with blue-enriched polychromatic light

Sleep Med. 2009 Mar;10(3):287-94. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2008.05.005. Epub 2008 Sep 19.


Background: Previous studies have shown that the human circadian system is maximally sensitive to short-wavelength (blue) light. Whether this sensitivity can be utilized to increase the size of phase shifts using light boxes and protocols designed for practical settings is not known. We assessed whether bright polychromatic lamps enriched in the short-wavelength portion of the visible light spectrum could produce larger phase advances than standard bright white lamps.

Methods: Twenty-two healthy young adults received either a bright white or bright blue-enriched 2-h phase advancing light pulse upon awakening on each of four treatment days. On the first treatment day the light pulse began 8h after the dim light melatonin onset (DLMO), on average about 2h before baseline wake time. On each subsequent day, light treatment began 1h earlier than the previous day, and the sleep schedule was also advanced.

Results: Phase advances of the DLMO for the blue-enriched (92+/-78 min, n=12) and white groups (76+/-45 min, n=10) were not significantly different.

Conclusion: Bright blue-enriched polychromatic light is no more effective than standard bright light therapy for phase advancing circadian rhythms at commonly used therapeutic light levels.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Circadian Rhythm / radiation effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Light*
  • Lighting / methods*
  • Male
  • Melatonin / metabolism
  • Phototherapy / methods*
  • Sleep
  • Wakefulness
  • Young Adult


  • Melatonin