Light Therapy Improves Sleep, Cuts Depression in Dementia Patients

by | October 11, 2018


Pauline Anderson
July 27, 2018


CHICAGO — A lighting intervention that closely mimics natural light improves sleep efficiency and reduces depression and agitation in nursing home residents who have dementia. These effects appear to increase over time, new research shows.

“This is a simple intervention that can be implemented in every nursing home,” and it’s not expensive, author Mariana Figueiro, PhD, director and professor, Lighting Research Center and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, told Medscape Medical News.

The findings were presented here at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2018.

Sleep Disruptor

Light helps control circadian rhythms, said Figueiro. “Every day, when you get light in the morning, you reset your biological clock.”

Exposure to daytime light helps consolidate sleep and improve behavior in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related dementia. However, lighting fixtures in institutions don’t deliver the relatively high level and the spectrum of lighting that best affect the circadian system.

Some people may not get enough light during the day but get too much at night, “which is the wrong time to be getting light,” said Figueiro.


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