As we age, our sleep patterns may be altered by a variety of factors; inadequate exercise, changes in diet, stress, etc. Elderly persons often have difficulty sleeping because of changes in their lifestyles that affect their circadian rhythms -- the regular cycle of day and night. A combination of spending more time indoors and physiological changes to the retina may be responsible for sleep disturbances, and if Alzheimer's disease is present, it adds another set of neurological changes that cause circadian confusion.
Researchers at the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute (RPI) determined that the lights used at many retirement facilities and nursing homes is not sufficient to provide any sort of circadian therapy for those with sleep disorders. Additionally, they concluded that commercially available white lights used in devices advertised to assist circadian rhythms were so bright as to cause glare, which might inhibit use.
Instead, the LRC developed a personal light treatment device, goggles with a blue bulb, developed by Topbulb.com, LLC, based on
its prior LRC light and health research. The prototype goggles were used on 11 subjects ranging in age from 51 to 80 years of age. Subjects wore the devices at two different levels of brightness for 90 minutes and blood and saliva samples were taken at 60 minutes, 90 minutes and 150 minutes.
Blood and saliva samples revealed that the hormones for nocturnal melatonin were suppressed by 35 percent at the low light level and 60 percent at the high light level after only one hour of light exposure. The effects were greater after 90 minutes, especially for the high light treatment, and the levels of melatonin suppression were maintained for one hour after the subjects stopped using the lights.
The LRC research is presented in the current issue of Chronobiology International, Volume 26 Issue 4, 726. Study on the effects of this personal light treatment device will continue, but its arrival on the market can not come too soon to those whose lives are affected by sleep disorders and, in the case of elderly persons, their caregivers as well.
RPINews, Informaworld via RDMag
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