Resetting of circadian melatonin and cortisol rhythms in humans by ordinary room light

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Abstract

THE present study was designed to investigate whether a weak photic stimulus can reset the endogenous circa- dian rhythms of plasma melatonin and plasma cortisol in human subjects. A stimulus consisting of three cycles of 5 h exposures to ordinary room light (∼180 lux), centered 1.5 h after the endogenous temperature nadir, significantly phase-advanced the plasma melatonin rhythm in eight healthy young men compared with the phase delays observed in eight control subjects who underwent the same protocol but were exposed to darkness (p ≤ 0.003). After light-induced phase advances, the circadian rhythms of plasma melatonin and plasma cortisol maintained stable temporal relationships with the endogenous core body temperature cycle, consistent with the conclusion that exposure to ordinary indoor room light had shifted a master circadian pacemaker.

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