According to a recent study, light therapy could be a promising treatment option for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Light therapy useful for certain symptoms of Alzheimer’s
Patients with Alzheimer’s disease often suffer from sleep disturbances and psycho-behavioral problems, including listless and depressive behavior, and even agitation and aggression.
Faced with these disorders, light therapy could be useful, as a non-pharmacological therapy. Photobiomodulation uses light energy to stimulate the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), an area of the brain that controls the circadian rhythm (the human body’s internal clock responsible for sleep). Although this technique has been tested several times against Alzheimer’s disease, a systematic evaluation of its effectiveness and safety was not previously available.
In this new study, researchers reviewed all validated work using light therapy for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. In total, around fifteen trials published between 2005 and 2022 involving a total of 598 patients were selected for further analysis.
An impact on sleep and behavioral problems
Result: light therapy significantly improves sleep efficiency, increases inter-daily stability (a measure of day-night rhythms) and reduces intra-daily variability (a measure of how often a person transitions from rest to activity over the course of the day). In patients with Alzheimer’s disease, light therapy also alleviated depression, reduced patient agitation, and improved caregivers’ quality of life.
The authors nevertheless recommend further studies to ensure that bright light could not cause undesirable behavior in patients. They nevertheless believe that light therapy is a promising therapeutic option for certain symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease: “Light therapy improves sleep and psycho-behavioral symptoms in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and has relatively few side effects, suggesting that it could be a promising therapeutic option in this indication.“.