A team of researchers at the Impact Centre, dementia care expert Ron Beleno, lighting experts at Lumentra, and other partners are leveraging expertise in the health impacts of lighting to help overcome sleeplessness in dementia patients.

Even the best of us can get irritable and confused without a solid night’s sleep. But for those living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, a good night’s sleep can become even more elusive.

Studies have shown that patients have increasing trouble sleeping as their dementia develops. This leads to sleep problems, nocturnal wandering, and daytime irritability, resulting in confusion, disorientation, anxiety, agitation, aggression, wandering and yelling. This increases the physical and emotional burden on caregivers both at home and in institutions. With more than half a million people in Canada diagnosed with dementia and an aging population, this poses a serious challenge to our healthcare system.

Funded through the AGE-WELL NCE Catalyst program, the project will create a new smart light system called ALADIN (Adaptive Lighting for Alzheimer and Dementia Intervention) that will automatically tune the light colour temperature to train a patient’s circadian rhythm. Numerous studies have demonstrated the value of slowly increasing the blue colour and intensity of light in the morning, and reducing the blue light intensity in the evening to promote better sleep.

“Advances in LED technology and lighting controls coupled with a deeper understanding of the health effects of lighting have enabled opportunities for new solutions to improve sleep,” said Dr. Venkat Venkataraman, project lead and director of scientific operations at the Impact Centre. “Combining our expertise in lighting and commercialization with partners in occupational therapy, patient care, and dementia is providing a unique opportunity to make a meaningful impact.”

The Impact Centre is the founding institute of the Smart Sustainable Lighting Network (SSLNet), Canada’s largest lighting industry network. This project joins others, including designing a solar powered overhead LED lamp for developing countries, that leverage the lighting expertise at the Impact Centre and the SSLNet.

“We are thankful to AGE-WELL for providing the opportunity to create this new healthful lighting product and improve the lives and sleep of those suffering from dementia.”