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Light Adaptation That Corresponds With Time of Day May Improve Outcomes for ICU Patients

ICU PatientsWhen an accident happens to someone you love, and they end up in the Intensive Care Unit with a catastrophic injury, you may not give much thought to the lighting of the room. All you want is for your loved one to survive and get better. A new study suggests the two could go hand in hand – or, at the very least, that light adaptation to correspond with the time of day may provide long-term health benefits to patients in the ICU.

Circadian Rhythms and ICU Patients

The body’s sleep schedule is guided by the circadian clock. Located in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) of the hypothalamus, it works by receiving light information from the retina of the eye and then sends the information to various parts of the brain. When there is more light, melatonin production (the sleep hormone) goes down. When it is dark, the body produces more melatonin, which causes the desire to sleep.

ICU patients often experience round-the-clock treatments and examinations. Lights are often turned on and off throughout the day and night, and that can cause confusion regarding the time of day. Further, this can make sleep and rest more difficult for ICU patients, despite being highly sedated upon admission.

Light Adaptation and the Outcome

To mitigate against the constant treatments, which are necessary for ICU patients, researchers treated a test group in a room where lighting changed to reflect the time of day. In the morning, they were provided with a weak, reddish dawn light. Around eight in the morning, that light turned strong and blue to reflect daylight. As the day approached evening, the light intensity weakened, and warm light was emitted from skirting boards.

Though the patients were not fully aware of the lighting at first, they seemed to experience calmness not seen in the control group. A year after their release, they were then asked various health questions about their sleep patterns, mental wellness, appetite, and overall physical feeling. Overall, patients who were in the room with light adaptation demonstrated significantly better self-rated recovery than patients in the control group.

Understanding What This May Mean for Your Loved One

While lighting may not be on your list of priorities, it may be beneficial to find a way to introduce more natural light during the day and to keep lighting low at night. Further, if your loved one has been hospitalized after an accident involving negligence, now is the time to take action. Again, while compensation may be the last thing on your mind, it is worth considering, if for no other reason, then to get the process started for them sooner.

Compassionate to the struggles that you and your family are facing, Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, LLP can handle the legal details of your case, giving you the time and energy you need to focus on your loved one. We will protect your rights, assist you every step of the way, and pursue the compensation that you deserve. Schedule a free consultation with our San Jose personal injury lawyers to learn more. Call (408) 289-1417 today.

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