Effects of Light Treatment on Sleep, Cognition, Mood, and Behavior in Alzheimer's Disease: A Systematic Review

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Background: Bright light treatment is a therapeutic intervention mainly used to treat sleep and circadian disturbances in Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients. Recently, a handful of studies also focused on the effect on cognition and behavior. Conflicting findings are reported in the literature, and no definite conclusions have been drawn about its specific therapeutic effect. Summary: The aim of this review is to provide a critical evaluation of available evidence in this field, highlighting the specific characteristics of effective bright light treatment. Eligible studies were required to assess at least one of the following outcome measures: sleep, cognition, mood, and/or behavior (e.g., depression, agitation). A total of 32 articles were included in this systematic review and identified as research intervention studies about light treatment in AD. The quality of the papers was evaluated based on the US Preventive Service Task Force guidelines. Key Messages: Overall, the current literature suggests that the effects of light treatment in AD patients are mixed and may be influenced by several factors, but with a general trend toward a positive effect. Bright light seems to be a promising intervention treatment without significant adverse effects; therefore, further well-designed randomized controlled trials are needed taking into account the highlighted recommendations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-384
Number of pages14
JournalDementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Behavior
  • Bright light treatment
  • Cognition
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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