How Light Improves Sleep Quality for Seniors with Alzheimer’s

By Pete Lane, 9:00 am on

Seniors with Alzheimer’s and other memory-related conditions often have difficulty sleeping. For Alzheimer’s caregivers in Centennial, unexpected waking in the night also increases the risk of wandering and presents additional issues for their senior loved ones, who may be more easily agitated due to a lack of sleep. Research into the effects of light on seniors with AD may provide some much-appreciated relief for both caregivers and seniors with the condition.

Red and Blue Light Experiments

Researchers at the Lighting Research Center at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute tested the effects of red and blue light, representing both ends of the visible spectrum for humans, on seniors with dementia-related sleep issues. The seniors were exposed to either red or blue light for a few hours before they went to sleep for nearly 2 weeks. The participating seniors slept better following the light exposure and were more alert during the day.

Alternating Light Patterns

Another study of seniors with Alzheimer’s and light involved varying light patterns. Seniors were exposed to white light during the day and blue light at other times. Results of the study suggest that changing light patterns may be more helpful for seniors with AD who have difficulty sleeping or staying asleep than static or minimal lighting. A Harvard study found positive results when seniors with AD were exposed to blue light pulses in the evening.

Scientists aren’t sure why some seniors with Alzheimer’s experience problems with sleep. It’s believed that light helps maintain the body’s circadian rhythms, a natural pattern of wake and sleep that’s sometimes thrown off in seniors with Alzheimer’s. In addition to finding ways to effectively use light exposure, caregivers can help their senior loved ones sleep better by creating a comfortable sleeping area with nightlights to prevent falls if wandering occurs and maintaining a regular sleep schedule.

Caring for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s feels much more manageable with the right support team in place, especially if he or she is prone to wandering or insomnia. To find the additional help both you and your loved one need and deserve, reach out to Home Care Assistance. We are a leading provider of elder care Centennial families trust and can ensure your loved one has help with everyday tasks, reliable transportation, and around-the-clock safety monitoring if necessary. Call us today at 303.957.3100 for more information.

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