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Alzheimer’s Patients Improve Sleep With Light Therapy

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So many incredible study results were presented on Monday, June 2, at the 28th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, SLEEP 2014. One study may be improving the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, suggesting that light treatment during the day may improve their sleep quality, and decrease agitation and depression.

The small study included 14 nursing home patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, and used the light source that produced low levels of 300 to 400 lux of a bluish-white light with a color temperature greater than 9000 K. The goal was to target the patient’s circadian rhythms by installing the light source inside each resident’s room for 4 weeks. A calibrated instrument was used to collect each resident’s activity-rest and light-dark pattern before and after their light treatment. Questionnaires were also used to find out more information about their depression, agitation, and sleep quality.

Researchers found after 4 weeks that scores were significantly reduced for agitation and depression. Also, each resident was able to sleep longer, more efficiently, and had significantly improved their overall sleep quality.

The impressive results from the study show that light treatment may be something that could be used in nursing homes across the US as it is both easy and inexpensive. As many as 5 million Americans are affected by Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Light treatment has also been recommended by other studies in younger patients who have insomnia. When you wake up in the morning try to get light exposure as soon as possible and get as much sun as you can during your workday.  This habit is a cost-effective way to increase the quality of your sleep at night as you get your circadian rhythm back on track.

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