We tested the effect of daytime indoor light exposure with varying melanopic strength on cognitive performance in college-aged students who maintained an enforced nightly sleep opportunity of 7 h (i.e., nightly sleep duration no longer than 7 h) for 1 week immediately preceding the day of light exposure. Participants (n = 39; mean age ± SD = 24.5 ± 3.2 years; 21 F) were randomized to an 8 h daytime exposure to one of four white light conditions of equal photopic illuminance (~50 lux at eye level in the vertical plane) but different melanopic illuminance [24–45 melanopic-EDI lux (melEDI)] generated by varying correlated color temperatures [3000K (low-melEDI) or 5000K (high-melEDI)] and spectra [conventional or daylight-like]. Accuracy on a 2-min addition task was 5% better in the daylight-like high-melEDI condition (highest melEDI) compared to the conventional low-melEDI condition (lowest melEDI; p < 0.01). Performance speed on the motor sequence learning task was 3.2 times faster (p < 0.05) during the daylight-like high-melEDI condition compared to the conventional low-melEDI. Subjective sleepiness was 1.5 times lower in the conventional high-melEDI condition compared to the conventional low-melEDI condition, but levels were similar between conventional low- and daylight-like high-melEDI conditions. These results demonstrate that exposure to high-melanopic (short wavelength-enriched) white light improves processing speed, working memory, and procedural learning on a motor sequence task in modestly sleep restricted young adults, and have important implications for optimizing lighting conditions in schools, colleges, and other built environments.