OBJECTIVE: To examine whether cycled lighting (CL) conditions during neonatal care in very preterm infants (<32 weeks' gestational age [GA]) decrease crying and fussing behavior, improve the consolidation of sleep, and influence activity behavior at 5 and 11 weeks' postterm corrected age (CA) compared with preterm infants cared for in dim lighting (DL) conditions.
METHODS: Thirty-seven preterm infants were randomly assigned to CL (7 am-7 pm lights on, 7 pm-7 am lights off [n = 17; mean GA: 30.6 ± 0.95 weeks; 9 girls]) or DL (lights off whenever the child is asleep [n = 20; GA: 29.5 ± 2.1 weeks; 8 girls]) conditions. Sleeping, crying, and activity behavior was recorded by using parental diaries and actigraphy at 5 and 11 weeks' CA.
RESULTS: A significant reduction of fussing (59.4 minutes/24 hours [± 25.8 minutes]) and crying (31.2 minutes/24 hours [± 14.4 minutes]) behavior and a trend to higher motor activity during daytime was found in CL-exposed infants at 5 and 11 weeks' CA compared with infants cared for in DL conditions. No significant difference between groups was observed for sleep behavior at 5 and 11 weeks' CA. Infants in CL conditions showed a trend to improved daily weight gain (average: 3.6 g/d) during neonatal care compared with DL conditions.
CONCLUSIONS: CL conditions in neonatal care have beneficial effects on infant's fussing and crying behavior and growth in the first weeks of life. This study supports the introduction of CL care in clinical neonatal practice.