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Long-term effects of environmental dynamic lighting on sleep-wake rhythm, mood and behaviour in older adults with intellectual disabilities

Publication year 2024
Published in Journal of intellectual disability research : JIDR
Authors M N Böhmer, A Oppewal, P J E Bindels, E J W van Someren, D A M Festen

BACKGROUND: Sleep-wake problems and depressive symptoms are common in people with intellectual disabilities (IDs) and are thought to be related to the unstable sleep-wake rhythm in this population. Previously, we showed that after increasing environmental light exposure, mid-sleep and sleep onset advanced, and mood improved over a period of 14 weeks after installing environmental dynamic light installations in the living room of people with IDs. We invited participants of that short-term study to take part in the current study on sleep-wake rhythm, mood and behaviour in older adults with IDs 1 year after installing environmental dynamic light installations in the common living rooms of six group homes.

METHODS: A pre-post study was performed from October 2017 to February 2019. We included 45 participants (63.5 ± 8.5 years, 67% female) from six group home facilities who provided data at baseline (9, 4 and 1 weeks prior to installing light installations), short term (3, 7 and 14 weeks after installing light installations) and 1 year (54 weeks after installing light installations). Wrist activity was measured with actigraphy (GENEActiv) to derive the primary outcome of interdaily stability of sleep-wake rhythms as well as sleep estimates. Mood was measured with the Anxiety, Depression and Mood Scale. Behaviour was measured with the Aberrant Behaviour Checklist.

RESULTS: One year after installing dynamic lighting, we did not find a change in interdaily stability. Total sleep time decreased (β = -25.40 min; confidence interval: -10.99, -39.82), and sleep onset time was delayed (β = 25.63 min; confidence interval: 11.18, 40.08). No effect on mood or behaviour was found.

CONCLUSIONS: We did not find a change in sleep-wake rhythm, mood or behaviour in older persons with IDs living in care facilities 1 year after installing the light. We did find evidence for a long-term effect on sleep duration and sleep timing. The results have to be interpreted with care as the current study had a limited number of participants. The need for more research on the long-term effects of enhancing environmental light in ID settings is evident.

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