Mariana G Figueiro, Barbara A Plitnick, Anna Lok, Geoffrey E Jones, Patricia Higgins, Thomas R Hornick, and Mark S Rea
Background: Light therapy has shown great promise as a nonpharmacological method to improve symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD), with preliminary studies demonstrating that appropriately timed light exposure can improve nighttime sleep efficiency, reduce nocturnal wandering, and alleviate evening agitation. Since the human circadian system is maximally sensitive to short-wavelength (blue) light, lower, more targeted lighting interventions for therapeutic purposes, can be used.
Results: The lighting intervention significantly (P<0.05) decreased global sleep scores from the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and increased total sleep time and sleep efficiency. The lighting intervention also increased phasor magnitude, a measure of the 24-hour resonance between light–dark and rest–activity patterns, suggesting an increase in circadian entrainment. The lighting intervention significantly (P<0.05) reduced depression scores from the Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia and agitation scores from the Cohen–Mansfield Agitation Inventory.
Conclusion: A lighting intervention, tailored to increase daytime circadian stimulation, can be used to increase sleep quality and improve behavior in patients with ADRD. The present field study, while promising for application, should be replicated using a larger sample size and perhaps using longer treatment duration.