Light exposure in the evening improves performance in the final spurt

May 19, 2017
Athletes in blue light: Performance during the final spurt is clearly increased by light exposure. Credit: University of Basel, Department of Sport, Exercise and Health

Athletes often have to compete late in the evening, when they are no longer able to perform at their best. As reported in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, however, researchers from the University of Basel have shown that athletes who are exposed to blue light before competing can significantly increase their performance in the final spurt. The blue light had no impact on the athletes' maximum performance.

Many sports events take place late in the evening, during television prime time. At this time of day, however, many athletes often fail to perform at their best due to their . In a study headed by Professor Arno Schmidt-Trucksäss, Raphael Knaier and colleagues at the University of Basel investigated whether light exposure before a cycling time trial can compensate for this disadvantage. The Sports and Exercise Medicine division, as well as Professor Christian Cajochen at the Centre for Chronobiology, took part in this extensive investigation involving 74 young male athletes.

It is well known that reduces the production of the . The researchers tested the hypothesis that this suppression of melatonin could improve an athlete's endurance during a 12-minute cycling time trial. They randomly divided the participants into three groups and exposed them to either bright light, blue monochromatic light or control light for an hour. This was immediately followed by the test on the bicycle ergometer.

Bright light is less effective

Exposure to blue light significantly improved the athletes' ability to increase their performance during the final spurt of the time trial. This increase was defined as the ratio of the performance measured in the first minute to that of the last minute of the test. The subjects' improved performance in the final spurt also correlated with the amount of blue light. This light was able to effectively suppress the melatonin and thus influence the athletes' sleep-wake cycle.

Compared to the control light, led to a small increase in overall performance, but the difference was not significant. "Since even minor differences are relevant in top-level sport, however, this should be investigated more closely in further studies," commented Professor Schmidt-Trucksäss.

Explore further: Let teenage athletes sleep in, researchers say

More information: Raphael Knaier et al, Prime Time Light Exposures Do Not Seem to Improve Maximal Physical Performance in Male Elite Athletes, but Enhance End-Spurt Performance, Frontiers in Physiology (2017). DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2017.00264

Related Stories

Let teenage athletes sleep in, researchers say

January 24, 2017
A new investigation into the impacts of electronic gadgets has revealed that the removal of these devices for a couple of days does not affect sleep quality or influence performance in young elite athletes. The results suggest ...

Plenty of light during daytime reduces the effect of blue light screens on night sleep

August 10, 2016
The use of smartphones and tablet computers during evening hours has previously been associated with sleep disturbances in humans. A new study from Uppsala University now shows that daytime light exposure may be a promising ...

Bright light after night shift may enhance alertness and cognitive performance

June 11, 2015
A new study suggests that bright light at the end of a night shift may have potential as a countermeasure to improve driving performance, particularly for low light work environments and commutes that occur before dawn.

Study links evening blue light exposure to increased hunger

June 2, 2014
A new study suggests that blue-enriched light exposure immediately before and during the evening meal may increase hunger and alter metabolism.

Lighting color affects sleep and wakefulness

June 8, 2016
A research team from Oxford University have shown how different colours of light could affect our ability to sleep.

Bright screens at night imperil sleep of young teens

August 26, 2015
A new study has an important implication for tweens and young teens as they head back to school: Taking a gadget to bed could really hurt their sleep.

Recommended for you

Study finds 275,000 calls to poison control centers for dietary supplement exposures from 2000 through 2012

July 24, 2017
U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures, according to a new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, ...

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

App lets patients work alone or with others to prevent, monitor, and reverse chronic disease

July 24, 2017
Lack of patient adherence to treatment plans is a lingering, costly problem in the United States. But MIT Media Lab spinout Twine Health is proving that regular interventions from a patient's community of supporters can greatly ...

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.