Light therapy has been considered to be effective in mitigating sleepiness and regulating circadian phase shift in shift workers. However, the effective treatment dose of light therapy remains undetermined. We performed a meta-analysis of randomized experimental studies to determine the effect of light therapy doses on sleepiness and circadian phase shift in shift workers. An article search was performed in 10 electronic databases from inception to June 2020. Two raters independently screened and extracted data and reached consensus. Twenty-one eligible studies were included. Analyses were performed using random-effects models. Light therapy exerted significantly small to medium effects on sleepiness and large treatment effects on circadian phase shift. Moderator analyses performed with subgroup and metaregression analyses revealed that medium-intensity light therapy for a shorter duration more effectively reduced sleepiness at night, whereas higher-intensity light therapy more effectively induced phase shifting, but the required treatment duration remained inconclusive. This study provides evidence regarding the effect of light therapy in reducing sleepiness and shifting circadian phase in shift workers. Exposure to medium-intensity light for a short duration at night reduced sleepiness, whereas exposure to high-intensity light improved sleep by shifting their circadian phase.
ASJC Scopus subject areas