Light at night is a pervasive problem in our society; over 80% of the world’s population experiences significant light pollution. Exacerbating this issue is the reality that artificially lit outdoor areas are growing by 2.2% per year and continuously lit areas brighten by 2.2% each year due to the rapid growths in population and urbanization. Furthermore, the increase in the prevalence of night shift work and smart device usage contributes to the inescapable nature of artificial light at night (ALAN). Although previously assumed to be innocuous, ALAN has deleterious effects on the circadian system and circadian-regulated physiology, particularly immune function. Due to the relevance of ALAN to the general population, it is important to understand its roles in disrupting immune function. This review presents a synopsis of the effects of ALAN on circadian clocks and immune function. We delineate the role of ALAN in altering clock gene expression and suppressing melatonin. We review the effects of light at night on inflammation and the innate and adaptive immune systems in various species to demonstrate the wide range of ALAN consequences. Finally, we propose future directions to provide further clarity and expansion of the field.
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