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

Curr Alzheimer Res. 2017;14(10):1063-1075. doi: 10.2174/1567205014666170523092858.


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.

Keywords: Institutionalised patients; circadian; daylight; dementia; dynamic lighting; elderly; emotions; sex differences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Circadian Rhythm / radiation effects
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dementia / physiopathology*
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • Emotions / radiation effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lighting*
  • Male
  • Melatonin / analysis
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / radiation effects
  • Nursing Homes
  • Phototherapy*
  • Quality of Life
  • Rest
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Sleep / radiation effects
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Melatonin