Sleep Length and Circadian Regulation in Humans
This research will examine why sleep restriction reduces the body clock's response to bright light. The results will enable the optimization of the bright light treatment of people who suffer from circadian rhythm sleep disorders, which include shift work sleep disorder, jet lag, delayed sleep phase syndrome and winter depression, thereby improving public health and safety, well-being, mood, mental function, and quality of life.
Millions of Americans suffer from circadian rhythm sleep disorders, which include shift work sleep disorder, jet lag, delayed sleep phase syndrome and possibly winter depression. These conditions are typically characterized by persistent insomnia and/or excessive daytime sleepiness, impaired performance, and gastrointestinal distress. These negative symptoms result from a misalignment between the timing of the external social world and the timing of the internal circadian (body) clock. Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are effectively treated with bright light, which phase shifts the circadian clock, thereby realigning it with the timing of the external social world.
It is widely recognized that social influences have led to an increasing prevalence of sleep restriction in modern society. We recently demonstrated for the first time that short sleep episodes, when compared to long sleep episodes, markedly reduce phase advances to bright light. Thus when people cut their sleep short, they inadvertently reduce their circadian responsiveness to bright light. The mechanism(s) behind these reduced phase shifts to light are unknown. However, there are at least two aspects of short sleep episodes that could be responsible for this effect. First, short sleep episodes are associated with partial sleep deprivation. Second, as humans sleep with their eyes closed and are usually exposed to light when awake, short sleep episodes are also associated with short dark lengths. Our overall goal is to determine the biobehavioral mechanisms by which short sleep episodes impair phase shifts to bright light. Specific Aim 1 is to determine the effect of partial sleep deprivation on phase advances to light, while controlling for dark length. Specific Aim 2 is to determine the effect of short dark lengths on phase advances to light while minimizing sleep deprivation. We will estimate the timing of the human circadian clock by measuring salivary melatonin, a neuroendocrine hormone released from the pineal gland, and collecting measures of sleep via actigraphy, and sleepiness, mood, gastrointestinal distress and cognitive performance via computerized assessment.
Characterization of the separate effects of sleep deprivation and dark length on circadian phase shifts to light in humans is critical to understanding how humans respond to light during their daily life activities. Furthermore, the findings of this research will produce important and practical recommendations for avoiding decrements to phase shifts to light, thereby optimizing the bright light treatment of circadian rhythm sleep disorders, and thus improving public health and safety, well-being, mood, cognitive function, and quality of life.
Allocation: Randomized, Control: Dose Comparison, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Crossover Assignment, Masking: Single Blind (Subject), Primary Purpose: Basic Science
Bright light box
Biological Rhythms Research Laboratory, RUMC
Rush University Medical Center
Results (where available)
- Source: http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT00843843
- Information obtained from ClinicalTrials.gov on July 15, 2010
Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions
Periods of sleep manifested by changes in EEG activity and certain behavioral correlates; includes Stage 1: sleep onset, drowsy sleep; Stage 2: light sleep; Stages 3 and 4: delta sleep, light sleep, deep sleep, telencephalic sleep.
Conditions characterized by disturbances of usual sleep patterns or behaviors. Sleep disorders may be divided into three major categories: DYSSOMNIAS (i.e. disorders characterized by insomnia or hypersomnia), PARASOMNIAS (abnormal sleep behaviors), and sleep disorders secondary to medical or psychiatric disorders. (From Thorpy, Sleep Disorders Medicine, 1994, p187)
Sleep Disorders, Intrinsic
Dyssomnias (i.e., insomnias or hypersomnias) associated with dysfunction of internal sleep mechanisms or secondary to a sleep-related medical disorder (e.g., sleep apnea, post-traumatic sleep disorders, etc.). (From Thorpy, Sleep Disorders Medicine, 1994, p187)
Movements or behaviors associated with sleep, sleep stages, or partial arousals from sleep that may impair sleep maintenance. Parasomnias are generally divided into four groups: arousal disorders, sleep-wake transition disorders, parasomnias of REM sleep, and nonspecific parasomnias. (From Thorpy, Sleep Disorders Medicine, 1994, p191)
Relatively bright light, or the dazzling sensation of relatively bright light, which produces unpleasantness or discomfort, or which interferes with optimal VISION, OCULAR. (Cline et al., Dictionary of Visual Science, 4th ed)
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