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Sundowner's Lighting

Spring '19

What is Sundowner's Syndrome?

Sundowners is a state of confusion that occurs in people with dementia, typically accompanied by aggression and paranoia

People often wander when they are in this state which can lead to injury.

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1.2 Million People experience Sundowners regularly

30% of Nurses 

in dementia units report physical violence.

Opportunity Statement

If we can reduce the effects or occurence of sundowners, we can reduce the subsequent injuries to residents and staff.


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Edmund Age: 72


Enjoys walks around the nursing home and spending Sundays with his family when they come to visit


Has Stage 2 Alzheimer’s accompanied with Sundowners Syndrome


Becomes restless and confused starting in the early afternoon

Current Solutions


Melatonin- induces sleep before the  symptoms occur


Heighten Activity Throughout the Day

Encourages sleep earlier in the day

Most current solutions use sleep as a way to avoid the behavior.

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Studies show the change in natural light throughout the day can trigger symptoms. 

Changes in light temperature affect hormonal balances. 

Shadows affect the perception of space.

Proposed Solutions

As the changing of light is thought to trigger the symptoms of Sundowner's, manipulating the light in the residents’ environment can be used to combat the symptoms.

By transitioning from cool direct light in the morning to warm diffused light in the early evening (mimicking sunlight) it is theoretically possible to reduce restlessness and aggressive behavior.  

Current Light Based Installations

Temperature changing lighting has been implemented in several nursing homes. 

Results show some decrease in sundowners symptoms, but since this approach does not target shadows there is still room for improvement.

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On cloudy days there are nearly no shadows. This is because light diffused through the clouds is no longer directional enough to create shadows.  A similar approach can be used to eliminate shadows indoors.

Shows intended effects of the Sundowner's Lighting System 

132a-pt light shadow casting-touch, davi

Conventional Lighting


Sundowner's Lighting

Sundowner's Lighting System

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An array of computer controlled lighted panels cover the entirety of the ceiling.

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Directed toward nursing homes in both communal space and private rooms. 

Most members of the demographic experiencing sundowner's live in nursing homes due to the need for constant care.


Wifi connectivity allows caretakers to customize the fixture to the needs of the individual resident through the nursing station computer.

Acrylic Panel

Frosted Acrylic diffuses and disperses the light to reduce shadows.

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Universal Mounting Bracket

Allows the system to be easily retrofit into existing buildings.

Adaptive LED Lighting

Bright RGB LEDs adjust in temperature in brightness throughout the day. 2 LEDs per sq. ft. ensure sufficient lighting throughout the room.

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