Using Light to Improve Sleep Quality for Seniors with AD

Light May Improve Sleep Quality for Alzheimer’s Patients

By Will Reid, 9:00 am on

During the early stages of Alzheimer’s, seniors may sleep more than usual or occasionally wake up disoriented from a nap. As the disease progresses, sleep patterns often include waking at night and compensating for missed sleep during the day, which can be disruptive for Alzheimer’s caregivers in Cincinnati as well. New research into light therapy suggests there may be ways to improve sleep quality for seniors with AD.

Day Sleeping Isn’t Quality Sleep

Disturbances within a senior’s internal clock (circadian rhythm), can reduce or prevent the recuperative sleep cycle. It appears that catching up on sleep during the day doesn’t result in the quality of sleep that’s beneficial for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease.

Red and Blue Light Studies

A study of seniors with AD exposed to red and blue light at different times suggests that light patterns may restore productive sleep patterns. Participants in the study slept better for 2-4 hours after light exposure and were more alert during the day. Alternating light patterns generated within a 24-hour cycle may be more effective than static lighting or dimmer conditions, according to results from another study.

Need to Fine-Tune Light Therapy

Light therapy has mixed results for seniors with Alzheimer’s. Some seniors respond well to light exposure. However, a small group study found that some seniors with AD found the light too stimulating. Previous studies have also produced mixed results, with light therapy improving the quality of sleep for some patients and having no effect on others, suggesting the need for a personalized approach to determine an effective level of exposure.

Related research confirms similar results with blue nightlights rather than bright white or yellow ones. One theory is that blue light replicates the blue of the sky, effectively flipping the “on switch” within the body. Further research may help architects better design or modify a senior’s home with a lighting pattern likely to promote normal sleep patterns.

If you are the primary caregiver for an aging parent or relative who has Alzheimer’s, don’t hesitate to reach out to Home Care Assistance for additional support. We’re a trusted senior care agency in Cincinnati, ensuring local seniors have the help they need to maintain a high quality of life in the comfort of home. Give us a call today at 513.891.2273 to learn more.

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