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Finding the Right Lighting

In-home elder care may help improve a patient's mood more so than staying or recovering in a hospital.

A recent study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing found that people in average hospital rooms are exposed to very little natural light during the day so their bodies can't stick to a normal sleep-wake cycle. Additionally, low levels of daylight exposure were linked to worse moods as well as fatigue and pain compared to those in well-lit rooms.

"Until now, no one has looked at the associations among light and outcomes such as sleep, mood and pain experienced in the hospital," lead author Esther Bernhofer, nurse researcher at the Cleveland Clinic's Nursing Institute, said in Reuters.

To find out whether light had an effect on healing, researchers collected data from 40 men and women admitted to a large, academic hospital between May 2011 and April 2012. For 72 hours, the patients wore a wrist device that measured their sleep-wake patterns and light exposure. They also filled out questionnaires about their mood and pain levels.

Results showed that patients were exposed to low light levels throughout the day and overnight, and they slept poorly with many interruptions for an average of only four hours per night. Additionally, they reported feeling more depressed and fatigued than those exposed to ample natural light.

In order to avoid bad moods, pain and fatigue, older adults should consider senior care services so they can recover in the comfort of their own homes, where they're exposed to more light than in a hospital room.

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