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Bright Light Delights: Effects of Daily Light Exposure on Emotions, Restactivity Cycles, Sleep and Melatonin Secretion in Severely Demented Patients

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Objective: We tested whether the effects of a dynamic lighting system are superior to conventional lighting on emotions, agitation behaviour, quality of life, melatonin secretion and circadian restactivity cycles in severely demented patients. As a comparison, an age matched control patient group was exposed to conventional lighting. For none of the output measures were significant differences between the two lighting conditions found during the 8 study weeks in fall/winter.

Methods: Thus, we divided the patient cohort (n = 89) into two groups, solely based on the median of their daily individual light exposure. Patients with higher average daily light exposure (> 417 lx) showed significantly longer emotional expressions of pleasure and alertness per daily observations than patients with lower daily light exposure. Moreover, they had a higher quality of life, spent less time in bed, went to bed later and initiated their sleep episodes later, even though the two groups did not differ with respect to age, severity of cognitive impairment and mobility. In general, men were more agitated, had shorter sleep with more wake episodes, had a lower circadian amplitude of relative rest-wake activity and interdaily circadian stability than women. In particular, lower daily light exposures significantly predicted lower circadian amplitudes of rest-activity cycles in men but not in women. This may indicate sex specific susceptibility to daily light exposures for rest-activity regulation in older demented patients.

Results: Our results provide evidence that a higher daily light exposure has beneficial effects on emotions and thus improved quality of life in a severely demented patient group.
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Keywords: Institutionalised patients; circadian; daylight; dementia; dynamic lighting; elderly; emotions; sex differences

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 October 2017

This article was made available online on 19 August 2017 as a Fast Track article with title: "Bright Light Delights: Effects of Daily Light Exposure on Emotions, Restactivity Cycles, Sleep and Melatonin Secretion in Severely Demented Patients".

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  • Current Alzheimer Research publishes peer-reviewed frontier review and research articles on all areas of Alzheimer's disease. This multidisciplinary journal will help in understanding the neurobiology, genetics, pathogenesis, and treatment strategies of Alzheimer's disease. The journal publishes objective reviews written by experts and leaders actively engaged in research using cellular, molecular, and animal models. The journal also covers original articles on recent research in fast emerging areas of molecular diagnostics, brain imaging, drug development and discovery, and clinical aspects of Alzheimer's disease. Manuscripts are encouraged that relate to the synergistic mechanism of Alzheimer's disease with other dementia and neurodegenerative disorders. Book reviews, meeting reports and letters-to-the-editor are also published. The journal is essential reading for researchers, educators and physicians with interest in age-related dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Current Alzheimer Research provides a comprehensive 'bird's-eye view' of the current state of Alzheimer's research for neuroscientists, clinicians, health science planners, granting, caregivers and families of this devastating disease.
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