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Assessment of a new dynamic light regimen in a nuclear power control room without windows on quickly rotating shiftworkers--effects on health, wakefulness, and circadian alignment: a pilot study.

  • Lowden, Arne
  • Åkerstedt, Torbjörn
Published Article
Chronobiology International
Informa UK (Taylor & Francis)
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2012
DOI: 10.3109/07420528.2012.675850
PMID: 22621361


The aim of the study was to test whether a new dynamic light regime would improve alertness, sleep, and adaptation to rotating shiftwork. The illumination level in a control room without windows at a nuclear power station was ~200 lux (straight-forward horizontal gaze) using a weak yellow light of 200 lux, 3000 K (Philips Master TLD 36 W 830). New lighting equipment was installed in one area of the control room above the positions of the reactor operators. The new lights were shielded from the control group by a distance of >6 m, and the other operators worked at desks turned away from the new light. The new lights were designed to give three different light exposures: (i) white/blue strong light of 745 lux, 6000 K; (ii) weak yellow light of 650 lux, 4000 K; and (iii) yellow moderate light of 700 lux, 4000 K. In a crossover design, the normal and new light exposures were given during a sequence of three night shifts, two free days, two morning shifts, and one afternoon shift (NNN + MMA), with 7 wks between sessions. The operators consisted of two groups; seven reactor operators from seven work teams were at one time exposed to the new equipment and 16 other operators were used as controls. The study was conducted during winter with reduced opportunities of daylight exposure during work, after night work, or before morning work. Operators wore actigraphs, filled in a sleep/wake diary, including ratings of sleepiness on the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale (KSS) every 2 h, and provided saliva samples for analysis of melatonin at work (every 2nd h during one night shift and first 3 h during one morning shift). Results from the wake/sleep diary showed the new light treatment increased alertness during the 2nd night shift (interaction group × light × time, p < .01). Time of waking was delayed in the light condition after the 3rd night shift (group × light, p < .05), but the amount of wake time during the sleep span increased after the 2nd night shift (p < .05), also showing a tendency to affect sleep efficiency (p < .10). Effects on circadian phase were difficult to establish given the small sample size and infrequent sampling of saliva melatonin. Nonetheless, it seems that appropriate dynamic light in rooms without windows during the dark Nordic season may promote alertness, sleep, and better adaptation to quickly rotating shiftwork.

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