Current Sleep Medicine Reports

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 76–84 | Cite as

Disruption of Circadian Rhythms by Light During Day and Night

  • Mariana G. Figueiro
Circadian Rhythm Disorders (F Turek, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Circadian Rhythm Disorders


Purpose of Review

This study aims to discuss possible reasons why research to date has not forged direct links between light at night, acute melatonin suppression or circadian disruption, and risks for disease.

Recent Findings

Data suggest that irregular light–dark patterns or light exposures at the wrong circadian time can lead to circadian disruption and disease risks. However, there remains an urgent need to (1) specify light stimulus in terms of circadian rather than visual response; (2) when translating research from animals to humans, consider species-specific spectral and absolute sensitivities to light; (3) relate the characteristics of photometric measurement of light at night to the operational characteristics of the circadian system; and (4) examine how humans may be experiencing too little daytime light, not just too much light at night.


To understand the health effects light-induced circadian disruption, we need to measure and control light stimulus during the day and at night.


Circadian rhythms Circadian phototransduction Circadian disruption Cancer in shift workers Light at night Daytime light 



This article was written with the support of a grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, No. R01OH010668.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Mariana G. Figueiro has nothing to disclose.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by the author.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lighting Research CenterRensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroyUSA

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