Light Treatment for Sleep Disorders: Consensus Report: I. Chronology of Seminal Studies in Humans

Scott S. Campbell, Charmane I. Eastman, Michael Terman, Alfred J. Lewy, Ziad Boulos, Derk Jan Dijk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Examination of the influence of the light-dark cycle on circadian rhythmicity has been a fundamental aspect of chronobiology since its inception as a scientific discipline. Beginning with Bünning's hypothetical phase response curve in 1936, the impact of timed light exposure on circadian rhythms of literally hundreds of species has been described. The view that the light-dark cycle was an important zeitgeber for the human circadian system, as well, seemed to be supported by early studies of blind and sighted subjects. Yet, by the early 1970s, based primarily on a series of studies conducted at Erling-Andechs, Germany, the notion became widely accepted that the light-dark cycle had only a weak influence on the human circadian system and that social cues played a more important role in entrainment. In 1980, investigators at the National Institute of Mental Health reported that bright light could suppress melatonin production in humans, thereby demonstrating unequivocally the powerful effects of light on the human central nervous system. This finding led directly to the use of timed bright light exposure as a tool for the study and treatment of human circadian rhythms disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-109
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of biological rhythms
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1995


  • circadian rhythms
  • history of experiments
  • light
  • phase response curve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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