Abstract: Working under daylight intensity lamp: an occupational risk for developing circadian rhythm sleep disorder?

Chronobiol Int. 2005;22(3):597-605.

Doljansky JT, Kannety H, Dagan Y.

The Institute for Sleep and Fatigue Medicine, Chaim Sheba Health Center, Tel-Hashomer, Israel.

A 47-yr-old male was admitted to the Institute for Fatigue and Sleep Medicine complaining of severe fatigue and daytime sleepiness. His medical history included diagnosis of depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. Antidepressant drugs failed to improve his condition.

He described a gradual evolvement of an irregular sleep-wake pattern within the past 20 yrs, causing marked distress and severe impairment of daily functioning. He had to change to a part-time position 7 yrs ago, because he was unable to maintain a regular full-time job schedule.

A 10-day actigraphic record revealed an irregular sleep-wake pattern with extensive day-to-day variability in sleep onset time and sleep duration, and a 36 h sampling of both melatonin level and oral temperature (12 samples, once every 3 h) showed abnormal patterns, with the melatonin peak around noon and oral temperature peak around dawn. Thus, the patient was diagnosed as suffering from irregular sleep-wake pattern. Treatment with melatonin (5 mg, 2 h before bedtime) did not improve his condition. A further investigation of the patient’s daily habits and environmental conditions revealed two important facts.

First, his occupation required work under a daylight intensity lamp (professional diamond-grading equipment of more than 8000 lux), and second, since the patient tended to work late, the exposure to bright light occurred mostly at night. To recover his circadian rhythmicity and stabilize his sleep-wake pattern, we recommended combined treatment consisting of evening melatonin ingestion combined with morning (09:00 h) bright light therapy (0800 lux for 1 h) plus the avoidance of bright light in the evening.

Another 10-day actigraphic study done only 1 wk after initiating the combined treatment protocol revealed stabilization of the sleep-wake pattern with advancement of sleep phase. In addition, the patient reported profound improvement in maintaining wakefulness during the day. This case study shows that chronic exposure to bright light at the wrong biological time, during the nighttime, may have serious effects on the circadian sleep-wake patterns and circadian time structure. Therefore, night bright light exposure must be considered to be a risk factor of previously unrecognized occupational diseases of altered circadian time structure manifested as irregularity of the 24 h sleep-wake cycle and melancholy.

PMID: 16076658 [PubMed – in process]

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