Sleep maintenance insomnia is a major complaint among the elderly. As a result, an inordinate proportion of sleeping pill prescriptions go to individuals over 65 y of age. Because of the substantial problems associated with use of hypnotics in older populations, efforts have been made to develop nondrug treatments for age-related sleep disturbance, including timed exposure to bright light. Such bright light treatments are based on the assumption that age-related sleep disturbance is the consequence of alterations in the usual temporal relationship between body temperature and sleep. Although studies are limited, results strongly suggest that evening bright light exposure is beneficial in alleviating sleep maintenance insomnia in healthy elderly subjects. Less consistent, but generally positive, findings have been reported with regard to bright light treatment of sleep and behavioral disturbance in demented patients. For both groups, it is likely that homeostatic factors also contribute to sleep disturbance, and these may be less influenced by bright light interventions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)