Background: Bright light at night paired with darkness during the day seem to facilitate adaptation to night work. Considering the biological clock sensitive to short wavelengths, we investigated the possibility of adaptation in shift workers exposed to blue-green light at night, combined with using blue-blockers during the day.
Methods: Four sawmill shift workers were evaluated during two weeks of night shifts (control and experimental) and one week of day shifts. Throughout the experimental week, ambient light (approximately 130 lx) was supplemented with blue-green light (200 lx) from 00:00 h to: 05:00 h on Monday and Tuesday, 06:00 h on Wednesday and 07:00 h on Thursday. Blue-blockers had to be worn outside from the end of the night shift until 16:00 h. For circadian assessment, salivary melatonin profiles were obtained between 00:00 h and 08:00 h, before and after 4 experimental night shifts. Sleep was continuously monitored with actigraphy and subjective vigilance was measured at the beginning, the middle and the end of each night and day shifts. The error percentage in wood board classification was used as an index of performance.
Results: Through experimental week, melatonin profiles of 3 participants have shifted by at least 2 hours. Improvements were observed in sleep parameters and subjective vigilance from the third night (Wednesday) as performance increased on the fourth night (Thursday) from 5.14% to 1.36% of errors (p=0.04).
Conclusions: Strategic exposure to short wavelengths at night, and/or daytime use of blue-blocker glasses, seemed to improve sleep, vigilance and performance.
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