How to Overcome Sleeping Problems in Dementia

How to Overcome Sleeping Problems in Dementia
A woman lies in bed with a frustrated look on her face, experiencing sleeping problems in dementia.

Try these tips to help someone experiencing sleeping problems in dementia get a better night’s rest.

If it seems like a senior with dementia has completely rewritten the rules on when and how to sleep, you’re not dreaming. For reasons that aren’t yet fully understood, sleeping problems in dementia are quite common. Changes to the senior’s circadian rhythm lead to drowsy days and sleepless nights.

The development of the disease is one contributing factor. Damage to brain cells causes increased weakness, making everyday tasks and activities exhausting. Medication side effects from commonly-prescribed dementia treatments can further exacerbate the issue.

Why Is a Good Night’s Sleep Crucial for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s?

Decreased sleep quality in dementia may bring about an increase in restlessness and delusions, and can cause serious safety concerns, such as the potential for an older adult to wander away and become lost or injured. Not only that, but a senior loved one who is sleepy during the day will also be less likely to want to engage in healthy activities, like spending time outside and exercising.

And, for a busy family caregiver who also needs sleep at night, it can be quite difficult to satisfy all of the person’s care needs during the day and throughout the night as well.

Ways To Help

Try these tips for a person whose sleep patterns are interrupted:

  • Talk to the doctor, first and foremost, for a review of medications. Adjusting the dosage timing each day could be all it requires to make a difference.
  • Maintain a routine, waking up and going to bed at the same time each day, limiting naps, caffeine, and heavy meals later in the day.
  • Include bedtime activities that are relaxing, such as a warm bath, turning off the television and playing quiet, calming music, or reading.
  • If wandering is an issue, a wireless bed exit pad can notify you if the senior gets up, so that you can help.
  • Try placing a clock that differentiates between daytime and nighttime near the older adult’s bed.

You may want to encourage an older adult to try sleeping on their side rather than the stomach or back as well. Recent reports revealed a potential link between side sleeping and more effective clearing of brain waste, such as excess beta-amyloid. Be aware that this research study was conducted on laboratory animals and it’s uncertain yet if the results carry over to humans.

Hired Hands Home Care can help as well, with overnight caregivers who are awake and alert, taking care of the older adult’s needs throughout the night so you can get the rest you need. Our caregivers are fully trained and experienced in creative, patient approaches to taking care of the unique care needs of those with dementia. Contact us at (866) 940-4343 to learn more about our specialized in-home dementia care services in Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Walnut Creek, and the surrounding areas.

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