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Human Research Program

Ultra-Short Light Pulses as Efficient Countermeasures for Circadian Misalignment and Objective Performance and Subjective Alertness Decrements

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Lighting protocols have been recognized by NSBRI (National Space Biomedical Research Institute), NASA, and NIH (National Institutes of Health) as important countermeasures for circadian rhythm and sleep disruptions and their associated effects on performance and alertness for both crews in space and workers on Earth. The current light-based countermeasures involve one or more hours of bright light exposure. We have recently demonstrated significant circadian phase shifting with an ultra-short 2-minute bright light stimulus. The use of such a short duration stimulus as a countermeasure would significantly preserve the ability to work in the International Space Station (ISS) lighting environment and reduce crew resource requirements. We proposed to test the relative efficacy of both ultra-short and longer-duration light protocol countermeasures using the newly approved ISS lighting system to induce both adaptive circadian resetting and direct alerting effects. Experiments were conducted jointly with Dr. S. Lockley and his NSBRI project "The ISS Dynamic Lighting Schedule: An in-flight lighting countermeasure to facilitate circadian adaptation, improve sleep and enhance alertness and performance on the International Space Station." These studies will further our understanding of the physiologic mechanisms that mediate exposure-duration-dependent and wavelength-dependent effects of photic stimuli on circadian phase and performance. Furthermore, results from these experiments will be added to our validated physiologically-based mathematical models of light, sleep/wake and circadian rhythms effects on performance and alertness, including a software application used for determining the optimal timing of light exposure to be employed as a countermeasure for predicted times of poor performance and alertness. The experimental and modeling results will have direct Earth-based applications for workers on early-rising, night, or rotating schedules, as well as for people experiencing jet lag. The work directly addresses one of the NSBRI NASA Research Announcement (NRA) research objectives and two NASA Human Research Program Integrated Research Plan (IRP) Risks. This proposal will also address other NSBRI goals: training of future scientists, collaboration among NSBRI investigators, and a combination of basic science with space-based applications and potential commercial applications.

NOTE: Follow-on continues as a directed research project as "Ultra-Short Light Pulses as Efficient Countermeasures for Circadian Misalignment and Objective Performance and Subjective Alertness Decrements--HFP00006."

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Light bulb

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