Inside Rensselaer
* Light-Speed Nanotech: Controlling the Nature of Graphene
*
*
LRC Researchers Develop Device To Improve Sleep Quality in the Elderly
In recent years, scientists at Rensselaer’s Lighting Research Center (LRC) and elsewhere have demonstrated that blue light is the most effective at stimulating the circadian system when combined with the appropriate light intensity, spatial distribution, timing, and duration. At the LRC, a team led by Mariana Figueiro, light and health program director and principal investigator on the project, has tested a goggle-like device designed to deliver blue light directly to the eyes to improve sleep quality in older adults.

A marked increase in daytime lighting levels can counteract the age-dependent losses in retinal light exposure by providing a stronger signal to the circadian system. However, the color and intensity of commercially available lighting systems, like those used in senior residences, assisted-living facilities, and nursing homes, are designed for visual effectiveness and minimal energy use and are not necessarily efficacious for generating light to stimulate the older circadian system, according to Figueiro.

In this project, the light-treatment prototype tested by Figueiro’s team was developed by Topbulb.com, LLC, based on prior LRC light and health research. The device offers an alternative approach using specially designed goggles that deliver blue light spectrally tuned for optimum circadian response.

After only one hour of light exposure, the light-induced nocturnal melatonin suppression level of the subjects was about 35 percent for the low light level and about 60 percent for the high light level. In addition, the higher level of blue light suppressed nocturnal melatonin more quickly, to a greater extent over the course of the 90-minute exposure period, and was maintained after 60 minutes.

Having demonstrated its stimulation effect on the circadian system, the researchers believe the device could be subsequently used to increase sleep consolidation and efficiency in older subjects when worn for a prescribed duration at an appropriate time.

To read the full press release, go to http://news.rpi.edu/ update.do?artcenterkey=2593.
* * *
*
*
Send comments to:
Inside Rensselaer, Strategic Communications and External Relations
1000 Troy Building, 110 Eighth Street, Troy, N.Y. 12180 or to leibat@rpi.edu.
*
Inside Rensselaer
Volume 3, Number 9, September 25, 2009
©2009 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Front Page
*
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute | About RPI | Virtual Campus Tour | Academics | Research | Student Life | Admissions | News & Events