Light exposure in the evening improves performance in the final spurt

May 19, 2017, University of Basel
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

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

Your dishwasher is not as sterile as you think

January 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Your dishwasher may get those plates spotless, but it is also probably teeming with bacteria and fungus, a new study suggests.

Study reveals what sleep talkers have to say

January 12, 2018
A team of researchers with members from several institutions in France has conducted a study regarding sleep talking and has found that most sleep talking is not only negative in nature, but involves a large amount of swearing. ...

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.