Effects of filtering visual short wavelengths during nocturnal shiftwork on sleep and performance

Chronobiol Int. 2013 Oct;30(8):951-62. doi: 10.3109/07420528.2013.789894. Epub 2013 Jul 8.

Abstract

Circadian phase resetting is sensitive to visual short wavelengths (450-480 nm). Selectively filtering this range of wavelengths may reduce circadian misalignment and sleep impairment during irregular light-dark schedules associated with shiftwork. We examined the effects of filtering short wavelengths (<480 nm) during night shifts on sleep and performance in nine nurses (five females and four males; mean age ± SD: 31.3 ± 4.6 yrs). Participants were randomized to receive filtered light (intervention) or standard indoor light (baseline) on night shifts. Nighttime sleep after two night shifts and daytime sleep in between two night shifts was assessed by polysomnography (PSG). In addition, salivary melatonin levels and alertness were assessed every 2 h on the first night shift of each study period and on the middle night of a run of three night shifts in each study period. Sleep and performance under baseline and intervention conditions were compared with daytime performance on the seventh day shift, and nighttime sleep following the seventh daytime shift (comparator). On the baseline night PSG, total sleep time (TST) (p < 0.01) and sleep efficiency (p = 0.01) were significantly decreased and intervening wake times (wake after sleep onset [WASO]) (p = 0.04) were significantly increased in relation to the comparator night sleep. In contrast, under intervention, TST was increased by a mean of 40 min compared with baseline, WASO was reduced and sleep efficiency was increased to levels similar to the comparator night. Daytime sleep was significantly impaired under both baseline and intervention conditions. Salivary melatonin levels were significantly higher on the first (p < 0.05) and middle (p < 0.01) night shifts under intervention compared with baseline. Subjective sleepiness increased throughout the night under both conditions (p < 0.01). However, reaction time and throughput on vigilance tests were similar to daytime performance under intervention but impaired under baseline on the first night shift. By the middle night shift, the difference in performance was no longer significant between day shift and either of the two night shift conditions, suggesting some adaptation to the night shift had occurred under baseline conditions. These results suggest that both daytime and nighttime sleep are adversely affected in rotating-shift workers and that filtering short wavelengths may be an approach to reduce sleep disruption and improve performance in rotating-shift workers.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / radiation effects
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Circadian Rhythm / radiation effects*
  • Employee Performance Appraisal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lighting
  • Male
  • Melatonin / metabolism
  • Nurses*
  • Occupational Health*
  • Ontario
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling*
  • Photoperiod
  • Phototherapy / methods*
  • Polysomnography
  • Saliva / metabolism
  • Sleep / radiation effects*
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm / diagnosis
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm / metabolism
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm / physiopathology
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm / psychology
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm / therapy*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wakefulness / radiation effects
  • Work Schedule Tolerance

Substances

  • Melatonin