Light treatment for NASA shiftworkers

Chronobiol Int. 1995 Apr;12(2):141-51. doi: 10.3109/07420529509064509.


Intense artificial light can phase-shift circadian rhythms and improve performance, sleep, and well-being during shiftwork simulations. In real shiftworkers, however, exposure to sunlight and other time cues may decrease the efficacy of light treatment, and occupational and family responsibilities may make it impractical. With these considerations in mind, we designed and tested light-treatment protocols for NASA personnel who worked on shifted schedules during two Space Shuttle missions. During the prelaunch week, treatment subjects self-administered light of approximately 10,000 lux at times of day that phase-delay circadian rhythms. Treatment continued during the missions and for several days afterward. No treatment was administered to subjects in the control group. Treatment subjects reported better sleep, performance, and physical and emotional well-being than control subjects and rated the treatment as highly effective for promoting adjustment to their work schedules. Light treatment is both feasible and beneficial for NASA personnel who must work on shifted schedules during Space Shuttle missions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Fatigue
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Fatigue
  • Phototherapy*
  • Reference Values
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders
  • Space Flight*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Work Schedule Tolerance*