Light therapy and Alzheimer's disease and related dementia: Past, present, and future

Nicholas Hanford, Mariana Figueiro

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations

Abstract

Sleep disturbances are common in persons with Alzheimer's disease or related dementia (ADRD), resulting in a negative impact on the daytime function of the affected person and on the wellbeing of caregivers. The sleep/wake pattern is directly driven by the timing signals generated by a circadian pacemaker, which may or may not be perfectly functioning in those with ADRD. A 24-hour light/dark pattern incident on the retina is the most efficacious stimulus for entraining the circadian system to the solar day. In fact, a carefully orchestrated light/dark pattern has been shown in several controlled studies of older populations, with and without ADRD, to be a powerful non-pharmacological tool to improve sleep efficiency and consolidation. Discussed here are research results from studies looking at the effectiveness of light therapy in improving sleep, depression, and agitation in older adults with ADRD. A 24-hour lighting scheme to increase circadian entrainment, improve visibility, and reduce the risk of falls in those with ADRD is proposed, and future research needs are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)913-922
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Volume33
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • circadian rhythm
  • light therapy
  • lighting design
  • sleep
  • wayfinding

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