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Bright Ambient Light May Improve Sleep Among Adults With Dementia

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Sarah Shoen

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Adults with dementia often experience sleep disturbances, which can further complicate their health. Light therapy has been one non-pharmacological intervention to help stabilize the sleep patterns and circadian rhythms of people with dementia.

A study out of Taiwan’s National Yang-Ming University utilized bright light in a novel way that not only showed significant improvements in participants’ sleep patterns, but may also increase safety and comfort of the therapy.

This is an intervention that may be “easily replicated … in hospitals, nursing homes, daycare centers, community service bases, other hardware facilities, even at home.”

Researchers asked participants to sit in a room in which bright ambient lighting was affixed to the ceiling at a 45-degree angle for one hour between 9:00am and 10:00am. Researchers determined that a 4-week period made significant effects on their sleep patterns.

This is an intervention that may be a feasible and practical treatment model for older adults with dementia that “can be easily replicated … in hospitals, nursing homes, daycare centers, community service bases, other hardware facilities, even at home,” researchers said.

Notable findings of the study included the following findings:

  • The number of participants’ nighttime awakenings decreased by 23.2%.
  • Participants’ sleep time improved by an average increase of 141 minutes.
  • Participants’ sleep efficiency improved by an average of 41.9%.
  • Participants’ sleep onset advanced by 60 min (compared to a 47-minute delay in the control group).
  • Participants’ sleep offset was delayed by 57 min (compared to the control group’s 19-minute earlier sleep offset).

By comparison, the group that did not use the experimental ambient light showed more severe sleep disturbances in sleep efficiency, sleep time, awakening time, and the number of nighttime awakenings at the fifth compared to their baseline measurements.

Consistent with previous reports, the study found that ambient bright light therapy is more effective for severe dementia than for moderate and mild dementia. It also confirmed existing literature that light therapy helps patients with Alzheimer’s-type dementia sleep more efficiently than those with other dementia types.

This study’s intervention builds upon current light therapies with its placement of the lighting, which may increase comfort and adherence to the protocol.

This study shows that ambient light therapies may be effective in improving sleep disturbances and circadian rhythms. With the specific lighting placement, the therapy may maximize patient comfort and adherence, with optimal effects.

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About Our Editorial Team

author
Sarah Shoen

News Writer

Sarah has covered news topics for digital and print publications. She holds a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Nevada.

About Our Editorial Team

author
Sarah Shoen

News Writer

Sarah has covered news topics for digital and print publications. She holds a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Nevada.

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