Hospital uses circadian lights to set sleep-wake cycle

A MAJOR hospital has installed so-called circadian lighting to set the sleep-wake cycles of patients.

The lighting at the Medical Behavioural Unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia changes colour and intensity throughout the day in a bid to reset the circadian rhythms of patients, which often gets disrupted in healthcare environments.

Maintaining regular sleep-wake cycles is seen as an important clinical tool at the specialist Medical Behavioural Unit at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, which treats kids with medical problems who also have underlying behavioural conditions such as depression, anxiety, and autism.

The lights are a low-intensity warm colour temperature in the early morning, cool colour temperature in mid-morning and high-intensity in the afternoon, falling back to low-intensity warm colour temperature in the evenings.

It is designed specifically to counter the disruption to normal sleep-wake cycles experienced in hospitals which are typically not bright enough during the day or dark enough during the night to entrain the body’s natural pattern.

Maintaining regular sleep-wake cycles is seen as an important clinical tool at the specialist Medical Behavioural Unit, which treats kids with medical problems who also have underlying behavioural conditions such as depression, anxiety, and autism.

The children also can tune a colour-changing LED fitting over their beds as a ‘positive distraction’, senior project manager Mary Alcaraz told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The hospital is not describing the installation as so-called ‘human-centric lighting’ and nor is it making any claims for it beyond that it appears popular with staff and patients. Not is it participating in a formal scientific study of the effects of the tuning. Anecodotal evidence from occupants is that it is ‘stimulating’, ‘comfortable’ and ‘gentle’ as certain times of the day.

Last month, a study concluded that the right lighting in nursing homes could improve the sleep, mood and behaviour for patients with Alzheimer's disease.

In February, customised lighting was installed at the Esbjerg Psychiatric Hospital in Denmark in a bid to cut aggressive behaviour and conflicts between patients and staff.

However, earlier this year Dr Russell Foster of Oxford University, a world authority on human-centric lighting said it was ‘too early’ to implement the technology. Speaking at the lighting industry’s global gathering at the Light + Building 2018 exhibition in Frankfurt, said: ‘We can’t develop human-centric lighting until we know what impact light has upon human biology across the day and night cycle’.

 

  • Do we know enough to start implementing human-centric lighting? That’s the subject of a special debate taking place at 1pm on Thursday 15 November 2018 at the Lighting for Workplace and Wellbeing conference, part of the LuxLive 2018 exhibition at London ExCeL. Entry is free if you pre-register HERE

Comments 14

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