Smart lighting may ease Alzheimer’s symptoms and help teens sleep

Mariana Figueiro wlth her blue light table.
Mariana Figueiro wlth her blue light table.

As evening approaches in the dementia ward at the Albany County Nursing Home, patients’ irritability and confusion rises. Come nighttime, many residents have problems sleeping — wandering, wheeling or perhaps falling in the halls.

So two years ago, health researchers installed what the home’s nurse manager Karen Pitcher calls “the miracle table,” a repurposed flat screen TV that emits a bluish-white light. They gathered residents around it at mealtimes, and allowed them to congregate there whenever they pleased from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The goal was to help stimulate the residents’ circadian rhythms — the hormones that ebb and flow according to light and other signals — and help correct the sleep disorders that are all too common among the ward’s elderly patients, especially those with dementia.

The miracle table worked some wonders. What happened wasn’t a complete reversal of symptoms, but was significant nonetheless for many patients. Read more

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