2011 Volume 30 Issue 6 Pages 251-258
Bright light at night improves the alertness of night workers. Melatonin suppression induced by light at night is, however, reported to be a possible risk factor for breast cancer. Short-wavelength light has a strong impact on melatonin suppression. A red-visor cap can cut the short-wavelength light from the upper visual field selectively with no adverse effects on visibility. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a red-visor cap on light-induced melatonin suppression, performance, and sleepiness at night. Eleven healthy young male adults (mean age: 21.2±0.9 yr) volunteered to participate in this study. On the first day, the subjects spent time in dim light (<15 lx) from 20:00 to 03:00 to measure baseline data of nocturnal salivary melatonin concentration. On the second day, the subjects were exposed to light for four hours from 23:00 to 03:00 with a nonvisor cap (500 lx), red-visor cap (approx. 160 lx) and blue-visor cap (approx. 160 lx). Subjective sleepiness and performance of a psychomotor vigilance task (PVT) were also measured on the second day. Compared to salivary melatonin concentration under dim light, the decrease in melatonin concentration was significant in a nonvisor cap condition but was not significant in a red-visor cap condition. The percentages of melatonin suppression in the nonvisor cap and red-visor cap conditions at 4 hours after exposure to light were 52.6±22.4% and 7.7±3.3%, respectively. The red-visor cap had no adverse effect on performance of the PVT, brightness and visual comfort, though it tended to increase subjective sleepiness. These results suggest that a red-visor cap is effective in preventing melatonin suppression with no adverse effects on vigilance performance, brightness and visibility.