Tune It up, Tune It down: Tuned Lighting & Nursing Home Residents’ Sleep Quality

Innovations in lighting technology have led to the implementation of tuned lighting, which automatically adjusts color and intensity to provide a more natural cycle of light throughout the day. To understand how this technology may impact residents’ sleep, researchers visited a skilled nursing facility where tuned lighting had recently been installed in corridors. This study appeared in the recent issue of Seniors Housing & Care Journal.

A total of 63 long-term care residents from three corridors participated in the study. Of these, 35 had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or related dementia. In the first two weeks of the study, only one corridor utilized tuned lighting, while lighting in the other two corridors was set to mimic standard fluorescent lighting. After two weeks, the lighting conditions were flipped—one corridor reverted to fluorescent lighting and the other two switched to tuned lighting. Information on residents’ sleep patterns was collected from interviews with nursing staff, in which they indicated the frequency and severity of sleep disturbances for each resident.

Results showed that tuned lighting reduced sleep disturbances by half, compared to standard fluorescent lighting. Typically, residents had frequent, severe disturbances or no sleep disturbance. Regarding the subset of Alzheimer’s and related dementia residents, tuned lighting appeared to have no effect on agitated behaviors.

This study took place at only one location, so future research will need to investigate residents from a larger number of communities. However, reducing sleep disturbances by half in such a short time is promising for this type of technology. The lighting was also only installed in corridors, so it is possible that the addition of tuned lighting to residents’ rooms would also be beneficial. The potential benefits of this and similar lighting technologies should warrant considerations for providers retrofitting current fixtures or in new construction.


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Baier RR, McCreedy E, Miller N, et al. Impact of tuned lighting on skilled nursing center residents’ sleep. Seniors Housing & Care Journal 2020; 28(1), 36-45.

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