Bedroom Light Exposure at Night and the Incidence of Depressive Symptoms: A Longitudinal Study of the HEIJO-KYO Cohort

Am J Epidemiol. 2018 Mar 1;187(3):427-434. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwx290.


Previous studies have indicated that minimal exposure to light at night (LAN) increases depression risk, even at 5 lux, in nocturnal and diurnal mammals. Although such low-level LAN may affect human circadian physiology, the association between exposure to LAN and depressive symptoms remains uncertain. In the present study, bedroom light intensity was measured objectively, and depressive symptoms were assessed, during 2010-2014 in Nara, Japan. Of 863 participants (mean age = 71.5 years) who did not have depressive symptoms at baseline, 73 participants reported development of depressive symptoms during follow-up (median, 24 months). Compared with the "dark" group (average of <5 lux; n = 710), the LAN group (average of ≥5 lux; n = 153) exhibited a significantly higher depression risk (hazard ratio = 1.89; 95% CI: 1.13, 3.14), according to a Cox proportional hazards model adjusting for age, sex, body mass index, and economic status. Further, the significance remained in a multivariable model adjusting for hypertension, diabetes, and sleep parameters (hazard ratio = 1.72; 95% CI: 1.03, 2.89). Sensitivity analyses using bedroom light data with a cutoff value of ≥10 lux suggested consistent results. In conclusion, these results indicated that exposure to LAN in home settings was independently associated with subsequent depression risk in an elderly general population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Female
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Lighting / adverse effects*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Reference Values