OBJECTIVE: Circadian timing affects sleep onset. Delayed sleep onset can reduce sleep duration in adolescents required to awake early for a fixed school schedule. The absence of short-wavelength ("blue") morning light, which helps entrain the circadian system, can hypothetically delay sleep onset and decrease sleep duration in adolescents. The goal of this study was to investigate whether removal of short-wavelength light during the morning hours delayed the onset of melatonin in young adults.
METHODS: Dim light melatonin onset (DLMO) was measured in eleven 8th-grade students before and after wearing orange glasses, which removed short-wavelength light, for a five-day school week.
RESULTS: DLMO was significantly delayed (30 minutes) after the five-day intervention, demonstrating that short-wavelength light exposure during the day can be important for advancing circadian rhythms in students.
CONCLUSIONS: Lack of short-wavelength light in the morning has been shown to delay the circadian clock in controlled laboratory conditions. The results presented here are the first to show, outside laboratory conditions, that removal of short-wavelength light in the morning hours can delay DLMO in 8th-grade students. These field data, consistent with results from controlled laboratory studies, are directly relevant to lighting practice in schools.