Application and benefits of Bright Light Therapy for dementia patients

Light-Therapy-for-AlzheimersBright Light Therapy utilizes specific simulated light to treat sleep disorders, shift one’s biological clock, or synchronize one’s sleep / wake cycle with the daylight /night cycle.

Our body has a natural cycle that makes us feel sleepy at night and helps us wake up in the morning. This cycle is controlled by circadian rhythm. We all have sleep problems from time to time when we go out of sync from our body’s natural rhythm. Some people develop more serious sleep disorders requiring treatment.

Since the 1980’s bright light has been utilized as a compelling treatment for depressive and circadian rhythm issue. It has also been applied as a useful method for normalizing sleep and behavior in individuals with dementia.

A study applied Bright Light Therapy to dementia. Dementia patient suffer through sun-downing, which is the worsening of cognitive functioning and orientation as the evening progresses. This lead to an increased anxiety and is frequently accompanied with wandering. The study showed that Bright Light Therapy, when applied to individuals with dementia, helps reduce the impact of sun-downing.

Another study by Burns and Byrne, revealed that dementia patients who sat before a bright light for two hours every morning slept more deeply, than they usually did.

Figueiro et al stated that Bright light can also improve control and postural stability. He showed that strips of LED’s placed around the door frame, as vertical and horizontal cues also decreased risk of falls.

Hence, there is a direct connection between the eye and circadian rhythm. In simple words, light plays a big role in maintaining our circadian rhythms, and light can be used to reset those rhythms when they get out of form.

Application of Bright Light Therapy

In Bright Light Therapy, the aim is to expose the person to light that is brighter than natural light. For this purpose, a light box which transmits up to 10,000 lux of light (significantly brighter than a standard radiant light) is used. This light is kept in front of the person being treated.

Adjusting to a Light Therapy Routine (for dementia patients)

  • They do not want to sit in front of the bright light:  Keep them focused on you. Hold their hand and start a conversation with an attempt to make them feel comfortable.
  • They become agitated: Use verbal reassurance; and if they don’t respond at all, you can end the therapy and try it again some other day.
  • They become distracted by something else: The best time to do the session is while having breakfast. This way it can become a part of their routine.

Benefits of Bright Light Therapy in dementia patients

Some of the other key benefits of Bright light therapy in Dementia:

  • Improved Sleep Cycles – One research showed that there was a marked change in sleeping habits in dementia patients when Bright light therapy was practiced every day.  The researchers also found that Dementia patients encountered a change in their sleep cycles when presented to Bright Light Therapy.
  • Decreased Wandering – Some studies have shown that Bright Light Therapy decreased wandering for individuals with dementia for the duration of the night.  Wandering can be a genuine behavioral worry since it can affect the security of the individual with Dementia.
  • Improved Behavioral Functioning – One study found that people diagnosed with dementia, demonstrated a change in the challenging behaviors that accompany dementia. A Study by Dowling and colleagues found that bright light can have a positive effect in reducing aggressive behaviors if the person is exposed to bright light of 2500 lux at different times of day. The timing of the exposure is important to remember and is of great importance.  Both morning and evening exposures were helpful changing the levels of aggressive behaviors, specifically agitation, depression, odd motor behavior, and appetite.
  • Improved Cognition – Bright light therapy has been related with increased scores on the Mini Mental State Exam, a test that measures cognitive impairment. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia who were presented to bright light therapy had increased scores on the MMSE. Another study exhibited increased cognitive functioning after bright light therapy, but only for the individuals who were in the beginning periods of Alzheimer’s, rather than the middle or later stages.

Effective and regular use of bright light therapy for Dementia can help lessen sleep disorders, wandering, agitation and other behavioral issues.


We at Samvedna Senior Care aim to help seniors live happy, active and independent lives, in the comfort of their home and community through interactive caregiving.

Samvedna Senior Care was established in October 2013 with two complementary goals – firstly to provide quality home care services to seniors with limited mobility or dementia and hence social interaction, and secondly to facilitate stimulating community interaction and participation.

Our Dementia Care services are

At-home services –
Dementia intervention activities by trained Care Specialists (already mentioned above). These services are available in Delhi NCR
More – http://www.samvednacare.com/dementia-care
Please call us for more info – Delhi NCR – 98184 21446, 124 4229659

Dementia Support Group –
Our Dementia Support group in Delhi NCR and Guwahati is a platform for caregivers to share feelings and support each other.
More – http://www.samvednacare.org/our-work/dementia-care
Please call us for more info – Delhi NCR – 98184 21446, 124 4229659 | Guwahati – 9864015872

Cognitive Wellness Programme, Sector 57  Gurgaon  –
Samvedna’s Cognitive Wellness Programme is designed for seniors with mild cognitive impairment, early dementia or Parkinson’s, and elderly lacking in enthusiasm and motivation. The aim is to stimulate the mind of the elderly to slow the progression of the disease or impairment. The sessions are 3 days a week, 11AM-1PM.
More – http://www.samvednacare.org/our-work/cognitive-wellness-programme

General Wellbeing:

With our General Well Being Services we aim to raise the quality of life of seniors, specially those who may have limited mobility and social interaction due to various constraints. Our interactive programme keeps them active and engaged through physical, mental and social activities, all in the comfort of their home.

More – http://samvednacare.com/general-wellbeing

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