Lighting in care home is tuned to boost serotonin

A LIGHTING installation at a care home in Denmark is using tuned light in an attempt to manage serotonin and melatonin levels in elderly patients.

The project – one of the largest so-called ‘human centric’ lighting installations in Europe – covers 120 assisted living facilities at the Marienlund Care Centre in the municipality of Silkeborg.

The pilot project consists of the construction of a ‘future care home’ with a range of innovative technologies to improve the welfare and wellbeing of the elderly residents. The full dynamic circadian lighting is programmed to stimulate circadian rhythms, and is tuned to each patient’s individual needs such as visual disabilities and sleep problems.

By removing the blue and delivering a red-orange light in the evening, the tuned lighting creates the optimal conditions for the production of melatonin to ensure effective sleep in the patients.

The fully automatic light protocol is designed to boost with the most effective wavelengths of light to stimulate the brain to produce the ‘happiness hormone’ serotonin, as research shows that it has an effect in reducing the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.

In the evening and at night the strength, wavelength and colour temperature is regulated to make the body produce the vital sleep hormone melatonin, which is produced during effective sleep.

The circadian lighting is custom-designed for the healthcare sector, and features a combination of red, green, blue, warm white, cool white and amber LEDs.
In the morning the boost and therapy function helps to activate the body. From the morning the light gradually rises to high intensity and high colour temperatures. The blue light helps to inhibit the production of melatonin and stimulates the production of serotonin and cortisol.
In the evening the custom evening and night light helps to create optimal conditions and prepare the body for a good night's sleep. By removing the blue and using a red-orange light into the evening it creates the optimal conditions for the production of melatonin. 

The red-orange light meanwhile helps creating a secure and tranquil environment for residents and patients. The staff are also affected by the light, and report that they find it easier to fall asleep after night shifts. The lighting is supplied by Danish manufacturer Lightcare, a specialist in circadian lighting for the healthcare sector.