The effect of dim light at night on cerebral hemodynamic oscillations during sleep: A near-infrared spectroscopy study
Recent studies have reported that dim light at night (dLAN) is associated with risks of cardiovascular complications, such as hypertension and carotid atherosclerosis; however, little is known about the underlying mechanism. Here, we evaluated the effect of dLAN on the cerebrovascular system by analyzing cerebral hemodynamic oscillations using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). Fourteen healthy male subjects underwent polysomnography coupled with cerebral NIRS. The data collected during sleep with dim light (10 lux) were compared with those collected during sleep under the control dark conditions for the sleep structure, cerebral hemodynamic oscillations, heart rate variability (HRV), and their electroencephalographic (EEG) power spectrum. Power spectral analysis was applied to oxy-hemoglobin concentrations calculated from the NIRS signal. Spectral densities over endothelial very-low-frequency oscillations (VLFOs) (0.003–0.02 Hz), neurogenic VLFOs (0.02–0.04 Hz), myogenic low-frequency oscillations (LFOs) (0.04–0.15 Hz), and total LFOs (0.003–0.15 Hz) were obtained for each sleep stage. The polysomnographic data revealed an increase in the N2 stage under the dLAN conditions. The spectral analysis of cerebral hemodynamics showed that the total LFOs increased significantly during slow-wave sleep (SWS) and decreased during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Specifically, endothelial (median of normalized value, 0.46 vs. 0.72, p = 0.019) and neurogenic (median, 0.58 vs. 0.84, p = 0.019) VLFOs were enhanced during SWS, whereas endothelial VLFOs (median, 1.93 vs. 1.47, p = 0.030) were attenuated during REM sleep. HRV analysis exhibited altered spectral densities during SWS induced by dLAN, including an increase in very-low-frequency and decreases in low-frequency and high-frequency ranges. In the EEG power spectral analysis, no significant difference was detected between the control and dLAN conditions. In conclusion, dLAN can disturb cerebral hemodynamics via the endothelial and autonomic systems without cortical involvement, predominantly during SWS, which might represent an underlying mechanism of the increased cerebrovascular risk associated with light exposure during sleep.