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Evaluation of the efficacy of randomized controlled trials of sensory stimulation interventions for sleeping disturbances in patients with dementia: a systematic review

Authors Dimitriou TD, Tsolaki M

Received 20 June 2016

Accepted for publication 9 September 2016

Published 17 March 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 543—548

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S115397

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Akshita Wason

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker


Tatiana-Danai Dimitriou,1 Magdalini Tsolaki2

1Neuroscience Department, Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, 2Third Department of Neurology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Greece


Objective: The current review aims to evaluate the sensory stimulation interventions in terms of reducing sleeping disturbances in patients with dementia. The nonpharmacological interventions seem to be an efficient, inexpensive, and easy tool for family caregivers. Moreover, sleeping disorders increase caregivers’ distress and may lead to hospitalization.
Methods: A systematic literature search was performed. Eleven randomized controlled trials have been found. Among these eleven trials, one referred to massage therapy and acupuncture, and the other ten studies referred to bright light therapy.
Results: The results demonstrated that there are no relevant randomized controlled trials of music therapy, aromatherapy, and multisensory environment/Snoezelen referring to sleeping disturbances. Several studies have been conducted about the effect of the bright light therapy, and there is also another study that combines massage therapy and acupuncture therapy.
Conclusion: Sensory stimulation interventions are inexpensive and practical for dementia caregivers; however, only bright light therapy seems to be useful to reduce sleeping problems in dementia. The other sensory stimulation interventions lack evidence, and there is a strong need for further research.

Keywords: sensory stimulation interventions, nonpharmacological interventions, sleeping disturbances, dementia, randomized controlled trials, review

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