Powerful artificial lights, known as Lumie lamps, are being donated to neurologists at Cambridge University’s School of Clinical Medicine for a research project aimed at improving the quality of life for people with Huntington’s disease (HD).
Bright light has been shown to have a strong impact in people’s levels of alertness, mood ,and performance. The Cambridge-based company, Lumie, specializes in light therapy and develops products to promote healthy sleep and waking cycles, regulating the body biological clock. Lumie Brazil, the specific type of lamp used in the research project, offers a higher light intensity than standard lighting, with emissions of 10,000 lux at 35cm. This would be the equivalent of indirect sunlight on a bright day (which ranges between 10,000 to 25,000 lux). Direct sunlight on markedly bright days usually ranges from 32,000 to 100,000 lux.
This study will use 24 Lumie Brazil lamps to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of two non-pharmaceutical interventions aimed to improve sleep quality — and, by extension, life quality — in people with HD. One of the interventions will be bright light therapy, a treatment for people who suffer from circadian rhythm sleep disorders, and the other is sleep restriction therapy, a treatment aimed at curing insomnia.
According to a press release, the project will start this month and is expected to continue for eight months.
HD is an inherited brain disorder for which there is no cure. HD causes nerve cell damage in several parts of the brain, and can affect movement, behavior and cognition. The disease progresses to a point where patients usually have no option but to become entirely reliant on others for their care.
Huntington’s has a significant impact on patients’ lives, including their emotional, mental, social and economic state. Early disease symptom can include personality changes, mood swings, fidgeting, irritability and altered behavior.