The impact of morning light intensity and environmental temperature on body temperatures and alertness

Marije te Kulve*, Luc J. M. Schlangen, Lisje Schellen, Arjan J. H. Frijns, Wouter D. van Marken Lichtenbelt

*Corresponding author for this work

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Indoor temperature and light exposure are known to affect body temperature, productivity and alertness of building occupants. However, not much is known about the interaction between light and temperature exposure and the relationship between morning light induced alertness and its effect on body temperature. Light intensity and room temperature during morning office hours were investigated under strictly controlled conditions. In a randomized crossover study, two white light conditions (4000 K, either bright 1200 lx or dim 51x) under three different room temperatures (26, 29 and 32 degrees C) were investigated. A lower room temperature increased the core body temperature (CBT) and lowered skin temperature and the distal-proximal temperature gradient (DPG). Moreover, a lower room temperature reduced the subjective sleepiness and reaction time on an auditory psychomotor vigilance task (PVT), irrespective of the light condition. Interestingly, the morning bright light exposure did affect thermophysiological parameters, i.e. it decreased plasma cortisol, CBT and proximal skin temperature and increased the DPG, irrespective of the room temperature. During the bright light session, subjective sleepiness decreased irrespective of the room temperature. However, the change in sleepiness due to the light exposure was not related to these physiological changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-81
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiology & Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Light
  • Thermophysiology
  • Alertness
  • Sleepiness
  • Productivity
  • CORE
  • TASK


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