Light Therapy Aids Psychobehavioral Symptoms With Alzheimer Disease

Significant benefits seen for sleep efficacy, depression, and agitation

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Dec. 8, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Light therapy is associated with significant improvement in sleep and psychobehavioral symptoms in patients with Alzheimer disease, according to a review published online Dec. 6 in PLOS ONE.

Lili Zang, from Weifang Medical University in China, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to identify studies evaluating the efficacy of light therapy on sleep disorders and psychobehavioral symptoms in patients with Alzheimer disease.

Based on 15 included randomized controlled trials (including 598 participants with Alzheimer disease), the researchers found that light therapy significantly improved sleep efficiency (mean difference [MD], −2.42), increased interdaily stability (MD, −0.04), and reduced intradaily variability (MD, −0.07). There were also significant benefits with light therapy for alleviating depression (MD, −2.55) and reducing agitation (MD, −3.97) and caregiver burden (MD, −3.57).

“These findings combined with its low side effects suggest the role of light therapy as a promising treatment for Alzheimer disease. Although light therapy has fewer side effects than pharmacological treatment, adverse behavioral outcomes in patients due to bright light exposure should be considered,” the authors write. “Nevertheless, further studies with appropriately larger sample sizes are necessitated to elucidate the effectiveness of light therapy in treating sleep disorders and psychobehavioral symptoms in patients with Alzheimer disease.”

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