Seasonal Differences in Light Exposure and the Associations With Health and Well-Being in Older Adults: An Exploratory Study

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Abstract

Objective:

This article reports summer verses winter seasonal variations across a suite of blue light, illuminance levels and health and well-being indicators.

Background:

The quality of lighting in care homes has been assessed previously, yet seasonal comparisons and the associations with sleep quality are limited. This exploratory study investigates light exposure in two seasons to determine the changes over time and the associations with health and well-being.

Methods:

In a repeated measures design, 16 older people (aged 72–99 years) living in a care home had their personal light exposure and sleep/wake patterns monitored for 4 days. Cognitive ability, mental well-being, daytime physical activity, and visual function were assessed. Mean light levels at preset times across the day, duration in light exposure over 1,000 lux, and sleep parameters were computed. Statistical investigations included correlations exploring associations and paired means tests to detect the changes between seasons.

Results:

The mean morning illuminance level in summer was 466 lux and 65 lux in winter. Duration in bright light over 1,000 lux was 46 min in summer and 3 min in winter. Light measures were significantly higher in summer. There was no statistical difference in sleep quality parameters between seasons, but there were significant difference in daytime physical activity level (i.e., this was higher in summer).

Conclusion:

The findings indicate low level of light exposures experienced in both seasons, with exposure levels being particularly low in winter. This provides new insights into the limited amount of light older people receive independent of season and the possible impacts on sleep and daytime physical activity level.

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