Researchers from Georgia State University have revealed that bright light therapy can improve nocturnal sleep, decrease daytime sleepiness, in mothers.
Sleep plays a vital role in promoting a woman's health and well-being. Getting the required amount of sleep is likely to enhance a woman's overall quality of life.
For the study, the researchers focused on 16 first-time mothers with a low birth weight infant hospitalized in the intensive care unit.
The subjects were divided into two groups. The first group received a 10,000 lux blue-green bright light therapy for four weeks and the second control group received a placebo dim red light therapy.
Their total sleep time during the day and night was measured by averaging the data obtained from two consecutive days of wrist actigraphy monitoring.
The findings revealed that the post-treatment average nocturnal total sleep time increased from 383 minutes (6.38 hours) at the baseline to 424 minutes (7.07 hours) for the treatment group mothers.
However, the total sleep time in the control group mothers worsened from 413 minutes (6.88 hours) to 373 minutes (6.22 hours).
After the four-week intervention, the treatment group mothers' daytime total sleep time decreased from 114 to 39 minutes.
"Having a low birth weight infant in the ICU can intensify sleep disturbances for mothers because of extended periods of exposure to the artificial dim light in the ICU and stress related to the infant's medical condition," said Shih-Yu Lee lead author of the study from Georgia State University
"Impaired sleep may have negative impact on the mother's well-being. In our research, we were looking for an intervention to help mothers that would be feasible for them to use even when their infant is hospitalized.
"The preliminary findings from our pilot study indicate that bright light therapy given through use of the special visor may improve mothers' nocturnal sleep, decrease daytime sleepiness, and be beneficial to their well-being," Lee added.
The study was presented at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).