Light Therapy to Improve Sleep Quality in Older Adults Living in Residential Long-Term Care: A Systematic Review

Published:November 18, 2022DOI:



      Because light can regulate sleep rhythms, numerous studies have investigated whether light therapy can improve sleep disorders in older people, but its efficacy remains controversial. Therefore, this systematic review aimed to examine and summarize current evidence about the efficacy of light therapy to improve sleep for older people in residential long-term care.


      Systematic review.

      Setting and participants

      Older people living in long-term care settings.


      Systematic searches were conducted in the databases PubMed, Web of Science, Cochrane, EMBASE, CINAHL, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, China Science and Technology Journal Database, WanFang, Chinese Biomedical Literature Database, and in reference lists within relevant articles. Studies were eligible for inclusion if they evaluated light therapy for older people with sleep disorders in long-term care settings.


      This systematic review includes 21 articles, summarizing light therapy with different durations and intensities. The light intervention was typically administered between 7:00 and 12:00 am for 30-120 minutes. The interventions lasted from 1 week to several months, and the intensity of the light intervention usually ranged from 2500 to 10,000 lux. Short-term exposure (30-60 minutes) with high light levels (≥10,000 lux), relatively long-term exposure (1-2 hours) with moderate light levels (2500-10,000 lux), or long-term exposure (1-4 hours or full day) with low light levels (≤2500 lux) were associated with improved sleep indicators for older people in long-term care settings.

      Conclusions and implications

      The efficacy of light therapy in long-term care settings may be affected by the duration of exposure, time and length of intervention, intensity of light, and equipment used to administer the therapy. Further research must be conducted to optimize light therapy parameters. Large, high-quality randomized controlled trials are needed to deepen our understanding of the effects of light therapy on sleep in older people living in long-term care settings.


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