Gundersen Tweeten Care Center recently installed new LED lights that will help regulate 
residents’ circadian rhythm.
Gundersen Tweeten Care Center recently installed new LED lights that will help regulate residents’ circadian rhythm.
Residents at Gundersen Tweeten Care Center in Spring Grove have new lighting at their facility, which is suppose to subliminally assist with their health.

New LED lights were installed that are programmed automatically to dim and lighten to help regulate residents’ circadian rhythm.

Circadian rhythm is the process of letting the body wake and rest with natural light.

“We’re trying to bring the outside in as much as we can,” administrator Michelle Borreson said. “Natural daylight synchronizes sleep-wake signals.”

The lights are turned off at night, and as dawn comes around, the lights brighten with blue light, which increases cortisone and serotonin production. Those two chemicals make people alert.

The blue light helps residents wake up and be alert during the day. It will also help build sleep pressure as the day goes on.

In the afternoon, the lights pull the blue color out of the spectrum and begin to produce warm amber colors such as reds, yellows and oranges.

That kind of light helps create melatonin production, which helps people go to sleep at night.

The theory of the new lighting is that it will lead to fewer falls and better behavioral expressions from residents. It’s also helpful to staff.

“It’s really about the residents and helping them,” she said. “We have already seen 50 percent less behavioral expressions.”

She added the amount of falls has been noticeably reduced also.

The staff will complete surveys to see how much of an affect the lights have. Although the lights are programmed automatically, they also have a manual override in case employees need more light.

The new lights were installed in every resident’s room. The light fixture has two different colors of light.

The top light is similar to the blue light in the hallways during the morning so residents wake up properly and stay alert.

The bottom light is also like the amber light in the hallways during the afternoons. It helps residents get ready to go to sleep after supper.

“When we maintain that proper sleep-wake cycle, we sleep better, we have less falls and moods are better,” Borreson pointed out.

Each patient room also has a light in the entryway, which is on a dimmer.

Staff is able to adjust the switch to whichever level of brightness they need. If they want to check on a resident at night, they can turn the dimmer down and then turn the light on so it does not suddenly wake up the resident.

The lights were installed through a grant from Otto Bremer, Borreson added.

She worked with Energy Performance Lighting from Madison, Wis., to find the right lighting. Brad’s Electric of Caledonia installed the lights.

There are also two new LED lights in the parking lot and new lights in office spaces, but those are fluorescent lights.

The Gundersen Tweeten Care Center is the first nursing home in the area to have tunable lights, Borreson said. The LEDs also reduce the energy used by the facility, which saves money.