Technology | Nov 30, 2011

The Maastricht University Medical Center+ and Philips Investigated the Effect of Light on the Sleep-Wake Rhythm of Cardiac Patients

The research shows that after seven days in a patient room fitted with HealWell ? a new lighting system developed by Philips which mimics the natural day/night cycle outdoors ? patients sleep on average 8% longer. After one week in a patient room fitted with standard lighting, on the other hand, patients' sleep duration was in fact slightly shorter than on the first night.

Sleep is an essential part of recovery process:
Existing scientific research has shown that high levels of light during the day help to regulate the human biological clock and the sleep-wake rhythm. If a person's biorhythm is less than optimum, this can disrupt sleep and give rise to all manner of health problems. Philips HealWell combines the positive biological effects of natural daylight with a pleasant atmosphere in the patient room. This has a positive effect on the patient's sleep patterns and that in turn has a positive effect on their biorhythm, which is important for their health and well-being. HealWell also enables patients to create a pleasant atmosphere from the comfort of their hospital bed and enables caregivers to create optimum light in which to work.

The research has demonstrated some significant improvements:
The time it takes a patient to fall asleep is reduced by approximately 30% during the period between the first and the seventh night and at the same time the duration of sleep at night increases by on average 8%. This means that a patient sleeps on average 30 minutes longer.
The research also shows that patients really appreciate being able to select the ambient lighting themselves. The healthcare personnel are also very impressed with the Philips HealWell lighting, partly because of the better light distribution over the entire bed without any annoying shadows.

The research process:

The Maastricht UMC+, the Clinical Trial Center Maastricht and the University of Maastricht have spent over nine months carrying out research into the effects of the Philips HealWell system on sleep and well-being among patients. This dynamic lighting system was installed in a number of patients' rooms in the hospital's Cardiology department. Over 100 cardiac patients took part in the survey, whereby one group was treated in patients rooms fitted with the Philips HealWell system and the other group, the control group, was treated in patient rooms equipped with standard lighting. It is still too early to make clinical claims of the healing effects of HealWell, but the field study has shown positive, very encouraging results.

Assessment of the cardiologists:
"We can now tell from the results of the Philips HealWell research that better light during the day enables patients to sleep longer at night," says Dr Petra Kuijpers, cardiologist at the Maastricht UMC+. "The patient's mental state is an important factor that influences the prognosis for cardiac patients, and light could have a positive effect on this, as well as on the patient's health in the long term. This is, however, an area in which further research is required. What the positive results of the clinical validation research demonstrate is the valuable role the HealWell lighting solution can play in improving the healing environment and promoting the recovery of our patients."

The HealWell lighting solution:
Philips HealWell is a lighting system that is installed in a hospital patient room. HealWell produces lighting levels that change gradually throughout the course of the day, much like the changes in light outdoors on a sunny day, and this affects sleep and mood. It is becoming increasingly important for healthcare institutes to create a healing environment in order to make the patients' stay more enjoyable and to promote their recovery.

Conclusions of the research results:
"The research into HealWell at Maastricht UMC+ ties in with the findings of earlier research, which found that light has a positive effect on health, mood and well-being, not just for people in a care environment but also for healthy people," says Dr Luc Schlangen, Senior Principal Scientist at Philips Lighting. "The Maastricht research is the first of a number of research projects that are already in progress or are in preparation in hospitals, such as in the new intensive care unit at the Jeroen Bosch hospital in Den Bosch and in the Hematology department in the Erasmusziekenhuis in Rotterdam. We will use the insights we have gained into the experiences of patients and caregivers to develop meaningful innovations that will improve people's lives."

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