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Higher Lighting Levels May Defend Against Dementia
June 27, 2008

Do higher lighting levels have the ability to counteract dementia? Yes, seems to be the answer, according to the results of a five-year Dutch study reported in the June 11th, 2008 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

According to the report, the 1,000-lux lighting by itself reduced cognitive decline by 5%, symptoms of depression by 19%, and physical functional decline by 53%. While those who took melatonin enjoyed 25% more uninterrupted sleep, melatonin alone tended to aggravate withdrawal and depression. The combination of higher levels of whole-day lighting and melatonin increased sleep efficiency by 3.5%, reduced nocturnal restlessness by 9%, and reduced agitated behavior by 9%.

Lighting-level recommendations, such as those published by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) or the International Commission on Illumination (CIE), usually are based on “visual performance” or how quickly and accurately the eye sees visual tasks. However, those who develop lighting recommendations are, increasingly, considering the human-health aspects of light. The IESNA – a Sponsor of the National Lighting Bureau – has recently revised Lighting and the Visual Environment for Senior Living, a highly regarded reference that now includes additional information on light and health. Get details at

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