by Cristina Marrone
A new meta-analysis involving 598 patients with Alzheimer’s disease found improvements in night-time rest efficiency and reduced agitation
Light therapy would lead to significant improvements in sleep and psycho-behavioral symptoms in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. This is stated by a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE e coordinato da Qinghui Meng della Weifang Medical University, in Cina.
How phototherapy works
The cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease is often accompanied by sleep disturbances and psycho-behavioral symptoms including apathetic and depressive behavior, agitation and aggression. Phototherapy is a non-pharmacological approach that uses light energy to stimulate the suprachiasmic nucleus (SCN), a sleep modulator in the brain located in the hypothalamus. How does phototherapy work? A special lamp is required, a medical device, capable of illuminating a subject at 10,000 lux. Upon awakening, the patient must be exposed to light for about half an hour. The light, similar to that of the sun but not dangerous, is received by some receptors in the retina which regulate circadian rhythms, thus improving mood, sleep and depression.
Stability of night rest
To date, light therapy has not been widely studied in relation to Alzheimer’s disease and no systematic evaluation of its efficacy and safety was available. Now this new study, researchers analyzed 15 works on the topic carried out between 2005 and 2022 from seven different countries which included a total of 598 patients.
The meta-analysis of all fifteen studies found that light therapy significantly improved sleep efficiency, increased the stability of nighttime rest, and reduced the frequency with which the patient transitions between rest and daytime activities. In patients with Alzheimer’s disease, light therapy also alleviated depression and reduced patient agitation and, consequently, caregiver burden.
Given the limited sample size in the studies included in this meta-analysis, the authors argue for the need for larger future studies, which may also potentially clarify whether exposure to bright light can cause adverse effects in patients. However, the researchers concluded that light therapy appears to be a promising therapy for alleviating some symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
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December 9, 2023 (modified December 9, 2023 | 09:11)
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