Share this to:

Support & Insight for the Autumn of Life

Light Improves Life with Alzheimer’s


Light therapy for Alzheimer’s increases sleep quality, efficiency and duration, according to an important study. 4 weeks of light therapy also significantly reduced depression and agitation. Learn how.

A key study offers an easy-to-do care tip. Research suggests that light treatment, tailored to increase circadian stimulation during the day, may improve sleep, depression and agitation in people with Alzheimer’s and related dementia.

Light is Simple, Inexpensive, Non-pharmacological

Results show that exposure to the tailored light treatment during daytime hours for four weeks significantly increased sleep quality, efficiency and total sleep duration. It also significantly reduced scores for depression and agitation.

Boosting Daytime Light Levels

“It is a simple, inexpensive, non-pharmacological treatment to improve sleep and behavior in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients,” said principal investigator Mariana Figueiro, PhD, associate professor and Light and Health program director of the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. “The improvements we saw in agitation and depression were very impressive.”

Therapy lights are easy to find at places such as:

There are many ways to boost light levels during waking hours in order to correct changes in the circadian rhythm of people with Alzheimer’s. The following video illustrates state-of-the-art LED lighting for the home. A discussion of the Alzheimer’s / Sleep / Lighting study continues below the video.

Dr. Figueiro’s research abstract was published in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and was presented in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the 28th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

Light Exposure During the Day

The pilot study involved 14 nursing home patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. A light source producing low levels of 300 to 400 lux of a bluish-white light with a color temperature of more than 9000 K was installed in the residents’ rooms. Light exposure occurred during daytime hours for a period of four weeks. Light-dark and activity-rest patterns were collected using a calibrated instrument prior to and after the lighting intervention. Measures of sleep quality, depression and agitation also were collected using standardized questionnaires.

Figueiro added that the improvement in sleep quality also was associated with other noticeable behavioral changes.

“Subjective reports by the nursing staff were that the patients were calmer, eating better and their overall behavior was more manageable,” she said.

Second Sleep & Lighting Study

A second “Tailored Lighting Intervention for Alzheimer’s and Sleep” study confirmed these results. While all measures improved, the most significant improvement was seen in sleep quality.

“Here we show that if the stimulus (light dose) is carefully delivered and measured, it can have a strong impact on sleep, depression and agitation,” said Dr. Figueiro. “Depression was a secondary measure, and I was pleasantly surprised by the positive impact of the light treatment on depression scores.”

The study involved 43 subjects diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias who were exposed to an active and inactive tailored lighting intervention for successive 4-week periods, spaced by a 4-week washout period. The lighting intervention was added to spaces in which patients spent most of their waking hours and was energized from wake time until 6 p.m. Calibrated personal light meters monitored exposures. Measures of sleep disturbances (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index), mood (Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia) and agitation (Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Index) were collected at baseline and during the last week of the intervention.



  • American Academy of Sleep Medicine:
    Established in 1975, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) improves sleep health and promotes high quality patient centered care through advocacy, education, strategic research, and practice standards. With about 9,000 members, the AASM is the largest professional membership society for physicians, scientists and other health care providers dedicated to sleep medicine. For more information, visit


  • The research was supported by funding from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
March 31, 2016 5:40 pm
Marvin Berman PhD
Marvin Berman PhD
March 13, 2019 10:01 pm

This is an important message about light having the capacity to help improve dementia symptoms. Our clinical trials and work with patients for the last 12 years has shown that light stimulation can reverse dementia symptoms including memory loss, fatigue, agitation, depression, sleep quality, gait stability and continence. We are currently conducting clinical trials in Texas and Pennsylvania using these home-based, easy to use, light therapy device.
for details and informed consent documents or call 610-940-0488 Quietmind Foundation.

April 1, 2019 5:25 am

Light in our home and workplace can affect our health and wellbeing. Natural light has many benefits

December 9, 2019 5:52 am

I'd like to say that artificial lighting is always a bit demotivating for me. I like to plan my home in a way so that most of natural lighting could get into home area.

Reply to  Jessica
March 23, 2021 5:10 pm

Some of the full spectrum lights now include LED's that are low energy consuming, and should feel less "artificial."

Depending on where you live, natural lighting may be difficult, so, if light is important and natural light hard to come by, this could still be a good option, at least for some!

Marvin Berman PhD
Marvin Berman PhD
March 21, 2021 6:42 pm

Light can be used therapeutically to reverse dementia. Please see our published study on the subject.

B. Berger

B. Berger

Visit Our Pages On:


This site was inspired by my Mom’s autoimmune dementia.

It is a place where we separate out the wheat from the chaffe, the important articles & videos from each week’s river of news. With a new post on Alzheimer’s or dementia appearing on the internet every 7 minutes, the site’s focus on the best information has been a help to many over the past 15 years. Thanks to our many subscribers for your supportive feedback.

The site is dedicated to all those preserving the dignity of the community of people living with dementia.

Peter Berger, Editor


Selective Focus Photography of Man Preparing Food Beside Smiling Women and Kids
10 Precautions for Celebrating Thanksgiving with Dementia
HOLIDAY TIPS: Getting together for a holiday meal can cause a person with Alzheimer's confusion and anxiety. Get 10 t...
Give Thanks - yellow flowers decor
4 Meaningful Thanksgiving Tips
HOLIDAYS & DEMENTIA: Thanksgiving is a time of togetherness. People with Alzheimer's need a special touch. See fo...
Disabled gun (Courtesy:
Guns & Dementia
Elderly Americans are the most likely citizens to own a gun AND the most likely patients to have dementia. How great ...
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
News, Treatments, Care Tips

Subscribe To The Weekly Newsletter

videos & articles on Research & Prevention
News to Get at the Truth

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter