The influence of light on thermal responses

M. te Kulve*, Lisje Schellen, L.J. Schlangen, W.D. van Marken Lichtenbelt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Light is essential for vision and plays an important role in non-visual responses, thus affecting alertness, mood and circadian rhythms. Furthermore, light influences physiological processes, such as thermoregulation, and therefore may be expected to play a role in thermal comfort (TC) as well. A systematic literature search was performed for human studies exploring the relation between ocular light exposure, thermophysiology and TC. Experimental results show that light in the evening can reduce melatonin secretion, delay the natural decline in core body temperature (CBT) and slow down the increase in distal skin temperature. In the morning though, bright light can result in a faster decline in melatonin levels, thus enabling a faster increase in CBT. Moreover, the colour of light can affect temperature perception of the environment. Light with colour tones towards the red end of the visual spectrum leads to a warmer perception compared to more bluish light tones. It should be noted, however, that many results of light on thermal responses are inconclusive, and a theoretical framework is largely lacking. In conclusion, light is capable of evoking thermophysiological responses and visual input can alter perception of the thermal environment. Therefore, lighting conditions should be taken into consideration during thermophysiological research and in the design of indoor climates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-185
Number of pages23
JournalActa Physiologica
Volume216
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016

Keywords

  • circadian rhythm
  • indoor environment
  • light
  • physiology
  • thermal comfort
  • thermoregulation
  • CORE BODY-TEMPERATURE
  • CIRCADIAN ENERGY-METABOLISM
  • EVENING DRESSING BEHAVIOR
  • BRIGHT-LIGHT
  • HEART-RATE
  • SUPRACHIASMATIC NUCLEUS
  • THERMOREGULATORY RESPONSES
  • SUBJECTIVE ALERTNESS
  • MELATONIN PHASE
  • ACTION SPECTRUM

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