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Melatonin in Addition to Light Therapy May Help People with Alzheimer’s

August 4, 2008

A morning-time dose of bright light, when combined with an evening dose of melatonin, may help normalize the sleep-wake cycle in elderly adults with Alzheimer’s. Dr. Glenna A. Dowling of the University of California, who headed the study, randomly assigned 50 nursing home patients with Alzheimer’s into three groups.

The first group was given light therapy for one hour, five hours per week. The second group received a dose of melatonin before bedtime, in addition to light therapy. The third group was exposed only to normal indoor light, and was not given melatonin.

Over the 10-week period of the study, Dr. Dowling and her colleagues found that the combination of light therapy and melatonin helped curb daytime sleepiness, and increase the patient’s activity level during the day overall. The light therapy used in the study included natural light as well as medical grade lights. Medical grade lights, such as those used in the Nedley Depression Recovery Program, are available through

Bottom line: A regimen of melatonin and light therapy may be effective in curbing daytime sleepiness and increasing activity levels during the day.

Topics: Health News