Sleep disturbances are a common problem in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Changes in sleep/wake patterns appear early on in the disease and become more disruptive as the illness progresses. Recent research on light therapies, however, suggests a viable solution for nighttime wakefulness and fitful sleeping during the day may be in sight.
Resetting the Biological Clock
Sleeping and awake periods in healthy humans are regulated by circadian rhythms, internal biological clocks located in our brains. Circadian rhythms take cues from the environment to trigger periods of wakefulness and sleep.
Studies show that lighting can be used to alter circadian rhythms, provided the light is applied in the right spectrum at the right time. For example, the body’s core temperature typically drops to its lowest point around two hours before waking. Providing bright light before this period has been shown to reset the biological clock to wake later the next day.
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A 24-Hour Lighting Scheme
A review of existing light therapy studies conducted by architectural engineer Mariana Figueiro suggests a lighting scheme with different levels of illumination might be beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s. The proposed 24-hour scheme would include two hours of soft illumination from LED lights early in the evening combined with bright lights during the day. Nightlights would be included to prevent falls during the night.
If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Assisting Hands Home Care, a leading provider of home care Potomac families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
The loss of restful sleep that occurs with Alzheimer’s has a negative impact not only on the individual’s health but also on the wellbeing of the caregiver. In fact, experts cite lack of sleep consolidation as one of the main reasons families make the decision to have loved ones moved to nursing homes. While the subject requires further research, lighting schemes that are timed to deliver a regular light/dark pattern may help those with Alzheimer’s sleep better and stay in their homes longer, which can also provide much-needed peace of mind for family members.
For reliable Alzheimer’s care, Potomac families can turn to Assisting Hands Home Care. We are a leading provider of professional memory care designed to help seniors maintain a higher quality of life. In addition to Alzheimer’s care, we also provide comprehensive dementia, Parkinson’s, and stroke care. From revolutionary care programs to compassionate and dedicated caregivers, we can meet all of your Alzheimer’s care needs. Reach out to us at Assisting Hands Home Care if you need compassionate professional care for your loved one. Call one of our dedicated Care Specialists today to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.