Patient Room Lighting Improves Sleep in Hospital Patients Interview with:
Luc Schlangen PhD
Principal Scientist at Philips Lighting Research Eindhoven
the Netherlands What is the background for this study? What are the main finding

Response: Everyone knows that sleep is critical to one’s overall health and well-being. Yet one-third of the general adult population report difficulties sleeping. Ongoing social commitments and work routines make it difficult to make sleep a priority, also in hospitals.

People increasingly recognize that the usage of light emitting electronic devices before bedtime is compromising sleep. Consequently, many people started to use these devices in a more sleep-permissive mode during the evening, using algorithms that automatically dim down the intensity and blue content of their tablet and smart phone screens as the evening progresses. Moreover, there is increasing evidence that brighter daytime light conditions help to improve mood and nighttime sleep quality.

These observations inspired us to undertake a joint study with the Maastricht University Medical Center. In the study we explored whether a tunable lighting system with extra daytime brightness and lower light intensities and warmer tones of light in the evening and night, can improve sleep and wellbeing in hospital patients. We found that the system was well appreciated and helped hospital patients to fall asleep more rapidly. Moreover, after 5 days in a room with such a dynamic lighting system patients slept longer by almost 30 minutes as compared to a standardly lit room. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Lighting has a major impact on our sleep and its timing. It is important to make our lighting more human centric and supportive for our sleep. Our daytime light ideally needs to be bright and blue-rich, like outdoors. In the evening (especially during the last 2 hours before bedtime), and at night, intense light and cooler blue tones have to be avoided. This helps to prevent that our light usage suppresses the natural production of melatonin, a sleep supportive hormone that we only produce around our usual bedtimes. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We already know that cycled lighting in care environments has a favorable influence on many outcomes as compared to 24h dimmed light or to continuous light. There are some general insights on light, circadian rhythms and sleep that can be put into practice, but precise guidelines how to define a light-dark cycle for the highest level of care are still lacking. This study only showed care benefits for a single predefined automated 24hr rhythm with tunable light. More clinical research is needed to establish what lighting rhythm is best to promote healing and wellbeing within healthcare settings.


Citation: Giménez MC, Geerdinck LM, Versteylen M, Leffers P, Meekes GJBM, Herremans H, et al. Patient room lighting influences on sleep, appraisal and mood in hospitalized people. Journal of Sleep Research. 2016

Note: Content is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on November 29, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD