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Help Your Loved Ones With Dementia Get Better Sleep


Sleep disturbances are normal in dementia patients. Many people are up and anxious at night because they sleep during the day. Sometimes they can’t distinguish the gap between morning and night or simply require less sleep due to their relative inactivity.

Most dementia patients have difficulty sleeping or wake frequently at night. Although the elderly do not need as much sleep as younger folks, this does not mean they have to endure sleepless hours of insomnia.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a term used to describe memory loss, an inability to communicate, and other impaired cognitive functions that affect everyday life. One of the most common reasons for dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.

Dementia is not really a particular illness; it’s an umbrella word that encompasses a wide range of different medical problems, similar to cardiovascular disease.

Unusual brain changes lead to disorders grouped under the umbrella word "dementia." These problems cause a decrease in cognitive abilities that is significant enough just to interfere with everyday life and independence. They also have an effect on one’s attitudes, emotions, and family life.

Research on Sleep Problems for Dementia Patients

Researchers have found that a variety of common sleep issues were related to an increased incidence of dementia.

Insomnia (a sleep disturbance characterized by trouble falling or remaining asleep) was linked to a 27 percent intensified risk of dementia.

Sleep shortage, described as not having enough sleep, was associated with a 25% increased risk of dementia.

Sleep inefficiency, such as spending many hours awake in bed, was linked to a 24 percent increased risk of dementia. Sleep apnea, an extremely severe sleep disorder in which breathing pauses and resumes during the night, was linked to a 29 percent increased risk of memory loss as well as dementia.

Sleep Disorders in Dementia Patients

Rapid Eye Movement

Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is a type of light sleep disorder in which people shift or speak in their sleep to carry out their illusions.

Light sleep disturbances appear to be especially linked with Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease; research has also indicated that light sleep disorders are an initial predictor of such symptoms, especially in older men.


Sleep Apnea

Sleep-disordered breathing is when someone has difficulty breathing while asleep. Oftentimes it’s due to airway blockages. Sleep apnea is the medical term for sleep breathing disorders. It can affect people of all ages, but it is more common in the elderly and those who are overweight. According to some studies, people who suffer from sleep apnea are more likely to experience memory loss or disability.

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

RLS (restless legs syndrome) is a neurological sensory-motor condition marked by a strong attempt to move one’s legs. It is also characterized by painful leg impulses.

 Its prominence rises with age and is affected by gender (relatively high in females) and ethnicity (lower in Asian peoples) with an approximate occurrence of about 8% in aging people with dementia.

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD)

At nighttime, PLMD triggers abnormal leg and/or arm vibrations. RLS affects a large number of patients with PLMD.

Sleep-wake Cycle Disorders

The sleep-wake cycle is a 24/7 cycle that regulates our bodies to keep us awake during the day and asleep at night. Once this mechanism is disrupted, it results in a variety of strange and disturbing sleep habits. This can include daytime tiredness and napping, as well as nighttime wakefulness and difficulty falling or remaining asleep.

Sleep disorders are linked to a variety of dementias, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Causes of Sleep Problems with Dementia Patients

What may cause the issue is crucial – is it the setting, dementia or medicine? This helps determine which tactics can be useful.

Some family caregivers believe that having a record will allow them to see behavior patterns, which may help them identify the source of the problem.

Alzheimer’s and Other Neurodegenerative Diseases

The weakening of the brain associated with different types of dementia continues to affect sleep in the brain including Alzheimer’s disease, circadian rhythm system disorder, and Parkinson’s disease.

Medication Side Effects

Stimulant medication for dementia patients can affect sleep problems, but people with dementia not taking medication can also face sleep disturbances. 

Other Causes

Additional factors that may lead to poor dementia sleep include:

An unsuitable room setting, such as a bright or noisy bedroom during bedtime.

Chronic pain, emotional distress, or physical fatigue.

Less daylight sensitivity can affect the sleeping cycle.

Eating patterns, like too much alcohol or caffeine.

To determine what may be causing sleep disorders, consult a physician about the particular symptoms and habits of your loved one. They can better help you assess which conditions may be contributing to the problem.

Sleeping Tips for Your Loved Ones with Dementia

Comfortable Setting for Sleeping

A healthy sleeping system should be arranged that includes a dark, quiet, and cozy bedroom. Since the patient with dementia may be more susceptible to noise or light, the environment should be changed in order to provide relaxation for the patient.

You can search for solutions here at safesleepsystems.com.

Schedule a Bedtime Routine

Make sure your loved one has a consistent bedtime routine that involves calming activities like taking a shower, reading, talking, and drinking something hot.

Massage Before Bedtime

A massage is an excellent way to relax before bed. Arms and leg massages are particularly beneficial. You can also apply calming oil on the temples or under the nose to help them get to sleep or to make them relaxed.

Decorate the Bedside Table

It will assist the person to feel better and not confused while waking during the night, especially if it includes a table clock and a familiar photo or preferred decoration like a nightlight.

Avoid Stimulants

Sleep is negatively affected by alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. Limit usage, particularly at night, of those substances. Avoid TV at night as well.

Limit Sleep at Day Time

Help the person to avoid napping in the afternoon

Medication for Dementia Patient

Dementia medicines should be used for sleep disorders after consultation with a doctor.

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