Suppression of men's responses to seasonal changes in day length by modern artificial lighting

T. A. Wehr, H. A. Giesen, D. E. Moul, E. H. Turner, P. J. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


We recently reported that humans have conserved mechanisms, like those that exist in other animals, which detect changes in day length and make corresponding adjustments in the duration of nocturnal periods of secretion of melatonin and of other functions. We detected these responses in individuals who were exposed to artificial 'days' of different durations. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether men who are exposed to natural and artificial light in an urban environment at 39° N are still able to detect and respond to seasonal changes in duration of the natural photoperiod. We measured profiles of circadian rhythms during 24-h periods of constant darkness (<1 1x) and found no summer-winter differences in durations of nocturnal periods of active secretion of melatonin, rising levels of cortisol, high levels of thyrotropin, and low levels of rectal temperature. The results of this and our previous study suggest that modern men's use of artificial light suppresses responses to seasonal changes in the natural photoperiod that might otherwise occur at this latitude.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R173-R178
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number1 38-1/II
StatePublished - 1995


  • body temperature
  • circadian rhythm
  • cortisol
  • light
  • melatonin
  • photoperiod
  • seasons
  • thyrotropin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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