According to a new study, light therapy might improve sleep and psycho-behavioral symptoms for individuals living with Alzheimer’s. This article will examine this study’s conclusions and the effectiveness of this treatment strategy.
How Was The Study Conducted?
For this study, researchers identified randomized controlled studies on light therapy for Alzheimer’s and dementia. This included 15 high-quality studies published between 2005 and 2022, which were conducted in seven countries and involved 598 participants.
The researcher’s findings indicated that light therapy in Alzheimer’s and dementia patients can be beneficial in several ways:
● Increased inter-daily stability: a measure of the strength of circadian rhythms, or how consistent daily activity patterns are.
● Improved sleep efficiency: the ratio between the time a person is asleep and the total time dedicated to sleep
● Reduced intraday variability: a measure of disruption of circadian rhythms, or how frequently someone transitions between rest and activity during the day.
Researchers also noted that light therapy in people with Alzheimer’s reduced depressive symptoms and agitation, lowering the stress on caregivers.
Current Treatments vs. Light Therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease
While the researchers discovered that light therapy had multiple benefits, they also noted that bright light in certain environments could worsen depressive and anxiety symptoms as some individuals could perceive it as unnatural and invasive.
Overall, the scientists concluded that light therapy significantly improves sleep and psychobehavioral symptoms in people suffering from Alzheimer’s, and it is a promising treatment for the illness.
Doctors also believe that the research warrants additional attention to address obvious issues, such as identifying acceptable levels of intensity and duration that boost positive results. This information is crucial for translating results from research to practical application.
The Future of Light Therapy
The researchers noted the following limitations of the study:
● Some of the articles failed to clearly describe their randomization, showing possible bias
● Types and degrees of dementia were inconsistent in various studies
That said, experts agree that light therapy is worth examining closely as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. However, they also believe more research is needed to overcome areas of its impact that remain inconclusive due to differences between trials involving light intensity and required treatment duration.
Based on a recent meta-analysis, light therapy can improve sleep and behavioral symptoms of dementia. Therefore, this treatment strategy could also be effective in treating behaviors and sleep in persons suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.