Sleeplessness due to Alzheimer’s

Handling Behavioral Changes with Dementia: Sleeplessness

While getting a full night of sleep is important for any individual, for people living with dementia and Alzheimers disease, it is even more imperative that they get plenty of sleep. Getting enough sleep can help the entire body stay healthy and it can help lower instances of confusion, disorientation and irritability. Unfortunately as Alzheimers progresses and the damage on the brain becomes more severe, the likelihood of sleeplessness also increases. The damage done to the brain with Alzheimers is believed to reverse the natural sleep-wake cycle in the brain and as the disease progresses individuals with Alzheimers tend to sleep more during the day and experience irregular sleep patterns at night. Many times, individuals with Alzheimers will be unable to fall asleep or get into a deep sleep cycle in the evening.

It is important that the caregivers and loved ones of those with Alzheimers disease know how to handle sleep related issues. Here are a few tips to assisting with sleeplessness.

- Always start by consulting a health care professional when sleeplessness becomes an issue. Many times, other medical conditions such as restless leg syndrome, depression, and sleep apnea may be contributing to the sleeplessness. Your health care provider may have treatment options that can help cure the patient of their health related issues. - Consider changing medication. When you visit your healthcare provider ask to see if the medication of your loved one could be contributing to their sleeplessness and consider giving out the medication at a different time of day or evening. - Get your loved one on a regimen. Help them soak in sunlight or bright lights first thing in the morning. Avoid letting them take daytime naps and make sure they are not drinking caffeinated beverages in the evening. Make sure they are going to sleep at the same time every night. - Make sure that you are setting up their bed as a place for sleep and sleep only. Do not let them eat, watch TV, read or relax in their bed; this can throw off their sleep schedule. - An exercise regimen can help get the body on a normal sleep schedule. Consider introducing 20 minutes of moderate exercise every day such as walking, water aerobics, stretching or other related activities. Make sure you are consulting a doctor first. - Make sure your loved one is not drinking fluids right before bed as this can cause them to need to use the restroom in the middle of the night and disrupt their sleep cycle. - Develop a relaxing pre-bedtime evening ritual. This can mean listening to music, taking a bath or simply dimming the lights. Try to avoid stimulating activities in the 2-3 hours before bed including watching TV so that your loved ones body can start to unwind and prepare for a good night of sleep.


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