2006 Volume 25 Issue 2 Pages 153-161
This study was intended to determine the effects of continuous bright light exposure on cardiovascular responses, particularly heart rate variability (HRV), at rest and during performance of mental tasks with acute nocturnal sleep deprivation. Eight healthy male subjects stayed awake from 21.00 to 04.30 hours under bright (BL, 2800 lux) or dim (DL, 120 lux) light conditions. During sleep deprivation, mental tasks (Stroop color-word conflict test: CWT) were performed for 15 min each hour. Blood pressure, electrocardiogram, respiratory rate, urinary melatonin concentrations and rectal temperature were measured. During sleep deprivation, BL exposure depressed melatonin secretion in comparison to DL conditions. During sleep deprivation, exposure to BL delayed the decline in heart rate (HR) for 4 h in resting periods. A significant increment of HR induced by each CWT was detected, especially at 03.00 h and later, under DL conditions only. In addition, at 04.00 h, an index of sympathetic activity and sympatho-vagal balance on HRV during CWT increased significantly under DL conditions. In contrast, an index of parasympathetic activity during CWT decreased significantly under DL conditions. However, the indexes of HRV during CWT did not change throughout sleep deprivation under BL conditions. Our results suggest that BL exposure not only delays the nocturnal decrease in HR at rest but also maintains HR and balance of cardiac autonomic modulation to mental tasks during nocturnal sleep deprivation.