PublicationsDim light at night disturbs the daily sleep-wake cycle in the rat
Exposure to light at night (LAN) is associated with insomnia in humans. Light provides the main input to the master clock in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) that coordinates the sleep-wake cycle. We aimed to develop a rodent model for the effects of LAN on sleep. Therefore, we exposed male Wistar rats to either a 12 h light (150-200lux):12 h dark (LD) schedule or a 12 h light (150-200 lux):12 h dim white light (5 lux) (LDim) schedule. LDim acutely decreased the amplitude of daily rhythms of REM and NREM sleep, with a further decrease over the following days. LDim diminished the rhythms of 1) the circadian 16-19 Hz frequency domain within the NREM sleep EEG, and 2) SCN clock gene expression. LDim also induced internal desynchronization in locomotor activity by introducing a free running rhythm with a period of ~25 h next to the entrained 24 h rhythm. LDim did not affect body weight or glucose tolerance. In conclusion, we introduce the first rodent model for disturbed circadian control of sleep due to LAN. We show that internal desynchronization is possible in a 24 h L:D cycle which suggests that a similar desynchronization may explain the association between LAN and human insomnia.
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