Lumie lights improve subjective well-being among shift workers participating in EuRhythDia’s diabetes research
Cambridge-based light therapy specialist Lumie reports improved subjective well-being among night shift workers participating in the EuRhythDia research project into type 2 diabetes.
EuRhythDia is a consortium of 15 leading European universities and research-led SMEs, including Lumie. The main task of this project, which involves 325 night shift workers, is to generate knowledge about how different lifestyle interventions in specific at risk groups impact the body’s circadian rhythms or body clock to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
According to the NHS1 in England in 2010, there were approximately 3.1 million people aged 16 or over with diabetes (both diagnosed and undiagnosed). By 2030, this figure is expected to rise to 4.6 million, with 90% of those affected having type 2 diabetes. It is known among scientists that night shift workers have a 5-fold higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than individuals who have never worked night shifts.
The study interventions are aimed at improving the participants’ adjustment to their disrupted sleep-wake patterns by positively influencing their body clocks. One of the groups, made up of 65 night shift workers, is undergoing light therapy treatment in four different study centres in Germany, Italy and Austria. For this study Lumie has supplied Lumie Brazil, its most powerful lightbox for optimum bright light therapy. Lumie Brazil delivers 10,000lux at about 35cm and is a certified medical device, which means the products are rigorously tested to European safety and effectiveness standards.
Workers undergoing three or more consecutive night shifts are receiving light therapy daily; light is applied during the first half of the night shift, and switched off during the second half. In addition, these workers receive light therapy on off-night shift days at home, accumulating to one hour during the first three hours after waking up. The workers are otherwise maintaining their usual living habits (diet, exercise activity) and sleep-wake patterns on non-night shift days as before the study.
Project coordinator, Prof Rainer Böger from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany says “The study participants feel very satisfied with this intervention. Those who have already finished the study reported that their subjective well-being was much improved by the light therapy. They were not only able to cope better with the work at night, but they also observed that it took them less time to re-adjust to a normal day-night cycle after the night shifts. This helped them to maintain their social life more easily.”
The EuRhythDia’s researchers now aim to study if – beyond the subjective well-being of the study participants – this treatment also helps to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes mellitus.
“We are eager to see if light therapy offers an easy and effective means of helping to maintain the health of our working population. The light therapy devices can conveniently be placed on any work desk, our study participants report; many of them asked if they may keep the light therapy device even after the end of the study”, Professor Böger says.
“Lumie prides itself on being at the forefront of research into light therapy and is delighted to be able to participate in this potentially significant project. The therapeutic impact of light on our body clock and its particular benefit to shift workers is already clear2 and it’s an effective and relatively inexpensive treatment. It is exciting to think light therapy might now also be shown to reduce the risk of a shift worker developing type 2 diabetes.” Jonathan Cridland, CEO, Lumie
2. The Impact of Sleep Timing and Bright Light Exposure on Attentional Impairment during Night Work. 2008 Aug;23(4):341-52. Read the abstract