Many older adults tend to have trouble sleeping, but for people who suffer from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, they have an even harder time. Alzheimer’s may reverse a person’s sleep-wake cycle, causing daytime drowsiness and nighttime restlessness. As Alzheimer’s continues to progress, these sleep disturbances often increase. With more severe forms of dementia, people tend to be sleepier during the day, which can cause their sleep at night to become fragmented and disrupted. It is common for people suffering from both dementia and Alzheimer’s to constantly wake at night and fall asleep during the day.
If you are caring for a loved one who suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s, here are some suggestions to promote better sleep habits:
Create a bedtime routine
Do the same things every night before bed, such as brushing teeth, having tea, or listening to soothing music. It can be difficult to help bathe or dress someone suffering from dementia, so it might be necessary to start earlier in the evening.
Encourage physical activity
When planning out the day, include daily walks, and other physical activities. This will promote better sleep at night.
Find out your loved one’s schedule for taking medications. Often morning drugs have a stimulating effect and evening drugs will help prepare them for sleep. Because of this,taking the proper medications at the right time of day is crucial. For people with Alzheimer’s, sleeping pills are highly discouraged as they increase confusion and likelihood of falls.
If you suspect your loved one may have an underlying condition that is effecting their sleep, such as sleep apnea, contact their doctor or Alaska Sleep Clinic. Treatment could lead to a better night sleep for you and your loved one.