Researchers have found that blue light exposure may be a counter-measure for fatigue - during the day and night.

"While alertness in night workers has obvious safety benefits, day shift workers may also benefit from better quality lighting that would not only help them see better but also make them more alert," said Steven Lockley, neuroscientist at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston, Massachusetts.

Exposure to short wavelength, or blue light, during the day improves alertness and performance."Our previous research has shown that blue light is able to improve alertness during the night, but our new data demonstrates that these effects also extend to daytime light exposure," said lead author Shadab Rahman, a researcher in BWH's division of sleep medicine.

The BWH researchers teamed with George Brainard, a professor of neurology at Thomas Jefferson University who developed the specialised light equipment used in the study.

Researchers compared the effects of blue light with exposure to an equal amount of green light on alertness and performance in 16 study participants for 6.5 hours over a day.

Participants then rated how sleepy they felt, had their reaction times measured and wore electrodes to assess changes in brain activity patterns during the light exposure.

Participants exposed to blue light consistently rated themselves as less sleepy, had quicker reaction times and fewer lapses of attention during the performance tests. They also showed changes in brain activity patterns that indicated a more alert state, said the study.

These results contribute to our understanding of how light impacts the brain and open up a new range of possibilities for using light to improve human alertness, productivity and safety, explained Lockley.

Next on their agenda is to figure out how to deliver better lighting, said the study published in the journal Sleep.

In addition to improvements in daylight access, new lighting technologies may help enable researchers to develop 'smart' lighting systems designed to maximise the beneficial effects of light for human health, productivity and safety.


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