How Can Lighting Be Used to Improve Sleep, Cognition, and Memory?

How Can Lighting Be Used to Improve Sleep, Cognition, and Memory? How Can Lighting Be Used to Improve Sleep, Cognition, and Memory?

September 17, 20192 min read
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In August, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) awarded a new five-year grant totaling $3.8 million to Mariana Figueiro, professor and director at the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


Figueiro will explore and research how lighting intervention designed to promote circadian entrainment will improve sleep, cognition, and memory in individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) which is an “at risk” or potential prodromal stage of dementia.


Sleep-wake disturbances are evident in approximately 60% of individuals with MCI. Healthy sleep could improve both working and long-term memory, and in a best-case scenario, prevent onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Light is the main factor impacting a person’s sleep-wake cycle, telling the body when to go to sleep and when to wake up.


“Our scientific premise is that sleep spindles, and the timing of spindles, are critical components of an interaction between electrophysiological events that provide a mechanistic explanation for memory consolidation during sleep,” Figueiro said.


Sleeping patterns and the importance of rest are key elements in the short and long-term health of every person.


Figueiro is among the world’s leading experts in the area of light and health, with a focus on bridging science to practical applications aimed at improving human quality of life.


“Tailored lighting, when properly designed to deliver the correct amount of light at the right time, can positively impact health and well-being,” said Figueiro. “We have seen first-hand the many benefits of lighting, but it is important to get the right lighting to see the positive effects.”


There’s a lot more to be discovered in this area of important research and if you are a reporter covering this topic – let our expert help with your stories and questions.


The LRC  is the world’s leading center for lighting research and education. And Figueiro is among the world's leading experts in the area of light and health, with a focus on bridging science to practical applications aimed at improving human quality of life. She is available to speak with media regarding the effects of light on human health. Simply click on her icon to arrange an interview.




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  • Mariana G. Figueiro
    Mariana G. Figueiro Director, Lighting Research Center (LRC) & Professor, Architecture

    Studies the effects of light on human health, circadian photobiology, and lighting for older adults

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