Trial supports benefits of intuitive lighting on quality of sleep among hospital patients

Published: 3-Jan-2012

Lighting trial shows improvement in patients\' sleep patterns

The introduction of an innovative solution that mimics the natural day-to-night light cycle has been found to help hospital patients sleep for longer.

A year-long trial at the Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands (UMC) found cardiac patients slept on average 10% longer and fell asleep 30% more quickly when treated on a ward fitted with Philips’ new HealWell lighting solution.

The results provide further evidence of a link between the impact of lighting on quality of sleep and, potentially, the knock-on effect this could have on the overall recovery process.

In rooms fitted with the HealWell system, patients’ sleep patterns showed an improvement after just seven days. In contrast, a control group treated on a normal ward found their sleep was comparable or slightly shorter after a week as compared to their first night in hospital.

The solution mimics the natural day/night cycle in line with research showing that high levels of light during the day can help to regulate the human biological clock and sleep-wake rhythm. If a person’s biorhythm is less than optimum, scientists say this can disrupt sleep and give rise to a number of health problems.

The UMC research also showed that patients appreciated the mood lighting option of HealWell, as they were able to select the levels themselves and staff preferred the system as it provided better light distribution over the entire bed without annoying shadows.

Dr Petra Kuijpers, a cardiologist at the hospital, said: “We can now tell from the results of the HealWell research that better lighting during the day enables patients to sleep longer at night. The patient’s mental state is an important factor that influences the prognosis for cardiac patients and light could have a positive effect on this, as well as on the patient’s health in the long term.

“While this is an area where further research is required, the positive results of the clinical validation research demonstrate the valuable role the HealWell lighting solution can play in improving the healing environment and promoting the recovery of patients.”

HealWell produces lighting levels that change gradually throughout the course of the day, much like the change in light outdoors on a sunny day and this can affect sleep and mood.

Dr Luc Schlangen, senior principal scientist at Philips Lighting, told BBH: “The research at Maastricht UMC ties in with findings of earlier research, which found the light has a positive effect on health, mood and wellbeing, not just for people in a care environment, but also for healthy people.

“Most medics will recognise the value and benefits of good sleep for patients in hospital settings.

“The research is the first of a number of research projects that are already in progress or are in preparation in hospitals and we will use the insights we have gained into the lives of patients and caregivers to develop meaningful innovations that will improve people’s lives.”

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