Effects of artificial dawn on subjective ratings of sleep inertia and dim light melatonin onset.

Research paper by Marina C MC Giménez, Martijn M Hessels, Maan M van de Werken, Bonnie B de Vries, Domien G M DG Beersma, Marijke C M MC Gordijn

Indexed on: 27 Jul '10Published on: 27 Jul '10Published in: Chronobiology international


The timing of work and social requirements has a negative impact on performance and well-being of a significant proportion of the population in our modern society due to a phenomenon known as social jetlag. During workdays, in the early morning, late chronotypes, in particular, suffer from a combination of a nonoptimal circadian phase and sleep deprivation. Sleep inertia, a transient period of lowered arousal after awakening, therefore, becomes more severe. In the present home study, the authors tested whether the use of an alarm clock with artificial dawn could reduce complaints of sleep inertia in people having difficulties in waking up early. The authors also examined whether these improvements were accompanied by a shift in the melatonin rhythm. Two studies were performed: Study 1: three conditions (0, 50, and 250 lux) and Study 2: two conditions (0 lux and self-selected dawn-light intensity). Each condition lasted 2 weeks. In both studies, the use of the artificial dawn resulted in a significant reduction of sleep inertia complaints. However, no significant shift in the onset of melatonin was observed after 2 weeks of using the artificial dawn of 250 lux or 50 lux compared to the control condition. A multilevel analysis revealed that only the presence of the artificial dawn, rather than shift in the dim light melatonin onset or timing of sleep offset, is related to the observed reduction of sleep inertia complaints. Mechanisms other than shift of circadian rhythms are needed to explain the positive results on sleep inertia of waking up with a dawn signal.