Dementia and sleep difficulties go hand in hand. The relationship between dementia and sleep is a significant cause of stress for family caregivers. When your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another kind of dementia doesn’t sleep well, you definitely won’t get enough sleep either.
Read on to discover the reasons for sleep problems in seniors with dementia and get tips for better sleep.
Sleep disturbances are common in both dementia- and non-dementia-affected older adults. Numerous seniors report changes in their sleep quality, number of hours slept, and amount of time spent awake at night. Indeed, starting in middle age, older adults' overall sleep time falls by roughly 30 minutes per decade.
These issues are considerably more common in dementia patients. Sleep disturbances can vary in nature and degree depending on the cause of your loved one's dementia and the stage of the disease.
Your dementia-affected loved one may encounter the following sleep disturbances:
If you're caregiving for a family member who has dementia, you're undoubtedly focused on improving sleep. Adequate sleep can significantly enhance your loved one's happiness, health, and overall quality of life — as well as your own. Here are some tips for assisting your family member with dementia in getting a good night's sleep.
Treating chronic pain may aid in your loved one's sleep improvement. If your parent's sleep is being disturbed by a disorder such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome, obtaining medical treatment may help.
Ensure that your loved one's room is suitable for a peaceful slumber. The environment should be dark, silent, and chilly (between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit).
Numerous people with dementia are on multiple medications. Certain medications, such as stimulants or diuretics, might impair sleep. In some situations, it may be possible to switch prescriptions or alter the time of day at which a particular medication is administered to aid in sleep improvement.
Support your dementia-stricken loved one in getting daily exercise. For instance, you could take a morning walk together. It is preferable to arrange physical exercise early in the day, as being overtired in the evening may worsen agitation.
Go outside or into bright light as soon as possible after waking up in the morning to aid in sleep cycle regulation. Reduce the brightness of the lights in the evenings as you approach bedtime.
Make a real effort to get your loved one to bed at the same time each night. Establishing a peaceful sleep routine may also be beneficial. For instance, you can dim the lights and play relaxing music before going to bed.
Excessive daytime sleep might contribute to poor nighttime sleep, so try to limit it as much as possible.
Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine may affect sleep.
In some instances, the doctor may prescribe sleeping pills to assist your loved one. However, since elderly individuals with cognitive impairment are more likely to develop sleep-inducing medication side effects, these are often not advised for long-term use.
Melatonin has been shown in several trials to aid sleep in persons with mild to moderate dementia. It may also assist with late-day anxiousness and confusion. Consult your loved one's physician before beginning any OTC supplements or sleep aids.
Wondering what the stages of dementia are? Check out this blog covering different stages of dementia for elderly individuals.
William Rivers is an editor with a master’s degree in Human Services Counseling at Maine State University. He has more than 20 years of experience working in the senior healthcare industry.