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A 'light bulb' moment for people with dementia
Date:5/12/2009

CLEVELAND Change the lighting; improve your health. It's a strategy researchers from Case Western Reserve University's Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing and the School of Medicine, the Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center at the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center (GRECC), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lighting Research Center and GE Consumer & Industrial have begun to test in a long-term care facility where daylight, which has proven health benefits, is not readily available.

The researchers removed some standard fluorescent lighting and installed new blue-white lamp prototypes developed by GE scientists at the company's Nela Park campus.

Research team members hypothesize that periods of blue light, like daylight, can help regulate the sleep-wake rhythm, which is a behavioral pattern linked to the 24-hour biochemical circadian cycle of the hormone melatonin. Depending on the level of the hormone, people are awake or sleepy.

The researchers want to regulate the sleep-wake cycle by regulating the amount of exposure to blue-white (wakefulness) and yellow-white (sleepiness) light. By increasing exposure to blue-white light during the day and yellow-white light in the evening, researchers hope to help patients regulate their sleep-wake cycles so that they are more awake during the day and more asleep at night.

Patricia Higgins, associate professor at the Bolton School of Nursing and one of the lead investigators, says the project may prove to be especially beneficial for people suffering from dementia.

In a recently conducted pilot study with five male patients, each suffering from dementia and living in a long-term care facility, researchers installed the blue-white lights in an activities room where most residents gathered for meals and daytime activities.

"We wanted to see whether lighting could affect the participants' sleep-wake rhythms," says Higgins. "While th
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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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