A randomised controlled trial evaluated bright light therapy and morning activity for the treatment of Delayed Sleep-Wake Phase Disorder (DSWPD) in young people. 60 adolescents and young adults (range = 13–24 years, mean = 15.9 ± 2.2 y, 63% f) diagnosed with DSWPD were randomised to receive three weeks of post-awakening Green Bright Light Therapy (∼507 nm) and Sedentary Activity (sitting, watching TV), Green Bright Light Therapy and Morning Activity (standing, playing motion-sensing videogame), Red Light Therapy (∼643 nm) and Sedentary Activity or Red Light Therapy and Morning Activity. Sleep (ie sleep onset time, wake up time, sleep onset latency, total sleep time) and daytime functioning (ie morning alertness, daytime sleepiness, fatigue, functional impairment) were measured pre-treatment, post-treatment and at one and three month follow-up. Contrary to predictions, there were no significant differences in outcomes between treatment groups; and interaction effects between treatment group and time for all outcome variables were not statistically significant. However, adolescents and young adults in morning activity conditions did not meaningfully increase their objective activity (ie movement frequency). Overall, adolescents reported significantly improved sleep timing (d = 0.30–0.46), sleep onset latency (d = 0.32) and daytime functioning (d = 0.45–0.87) post-treatment. Improvements in sleep timing (d = 0.53–0.61), sleep onset latency (d = 0.57), total sleep time (d = 0.51), and daytime functioning (d = 0.52–1.02) were maintained, or improved upon, at the three month follow-up. However, relapse of symptomology was common and 38% of adolescents and young adults requested further treatment in addition to the three weeks of light therapy. Although there is convincing evidence for the short-term efficacy of chronobiological treatments for DSWPD, long-term treatment outcomes can be improved. To address this gap in our current knowledge, avenues for future research are discussed.
- delayed sleep phase disorder
- light therapy