Dementia and Alzheimer’s Patients: Tips To Improving Sleep At Night

dementia patients tips to improving sleep better at night

Improving Sleep in Dementia Patients

Contents

Alzheimer’s or other dementias cause sleep changes. Many people with sleep disorders turn to drug treatment. However, these drugs do not help sleep in the long term. In addition, they can have serious consequences for the person with Alzheimer.

Thus, sleeping pills can accentuate their confusion but also cause falls. 

In addition, it is common for the elderly to take many drugs and therefore there is a harmful interaction between one of the drugs and the sleeping pill. So in all cases, each sleeping pill must be prescribed by a doctor. 

And the same goes for plants! We tend to trivialize the effect of plants, whether in infusion and essential oil. 

However, these plants have effects that you do not necessarily know. 

In addition to their calming effects, they can therefore have a second harmful effect on the health of your loved one. 

They can also cancel the action of certain drugs taken by the person (for the heart for example). Always seek professional advice before using. Each person is not the same. 

New research suggests that people not getting enough sleep in their 50s and 60s may be increasing their chances of developing dementia later – Healthline

Your loved one is not an average senior, they are someone with their own history and specific treatments. 

Health problems can prevent a person from getting a good night’s sleep. This can be the case of urinary tract infections, pain, sleep apnea, and resting leg syndrome.

Most Common Sleep Disorders in Dementia Patients

 

sleeping disorders in dementia patients at night

 

Sleep disorders in dementia patients are problems related to sleep. These include difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep at inappropriate times, sleeping too much, and abnormal behavior during sleep.

  • The person wakes up in the middle of the night and starts their day as if they had woken up in the morning. They move at home (and sometimes even outside their home), talk, make noise and the caregiver’s sleep is disturbed. 
  • The person with a form of dementia has no rhythm and sleeps as well day and night randomly. 

Why dementia patients don’t sleep well? 

Alzheimer’s patients can suffer from different sleep rhythm disturbances, including insomnia and fractional sleep that affects the daytime with the need to take several naps throughout the day.

  • People with dementia are very sensitive to environmental factors. They are sensitive to the light that disturbs their notion of time, to the stress that a tired caregiver can communicate at the end of the day. Digestion can also be more difficult for an elderly person. Every change in rhythm or habit disturbs the person with dementia. 
  • Sometimes the person no longer knows how to orient themselves in time. The time on their alarm clock no longer means anything to them. So when they wake up, they don’t know that they should try to get some sleep. 
  • Some people get up at night for a drink or to go to the bathroom. And they no longer know how to return to their room! They then wander around their accommodation, until they forget that they were looking for their room. They start their day much earlier than expected. 
  • Medicines taken by the person can have side effects and prevent sleep either directly or indirectly (for example by making you want to urinate). 
  • In the case of Alzheimer’s disease in an elderly person, age comes into play. Indeed, the sleep of the elderly is much lighter. Deep sleep lasts shorter, unlike light sleep. This makes it easier for the person to wake up feeling pain or a feeling of a full bladder. 

When can sleep disorders accelerate the progression of Alzheimer’s disease?

 

progression of alzheimer's disease
Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease illustration

Alzheimer’s disease is caused by an abnormal buildup in the brain of a protein called beta-amyloid peptide that causes amyloid plaque to appear. The more amyloid plaque a person has, the more advanced their disease. 

However, in 2013, it was discovered that a lack of sleep promotes the appearance of plaques. Sleeping too little therefore accelerates the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

How to help dementia patients sleep better?

Which approach to take to treat sleep disturbances in an elderly person with Alzheimer’s disease will depend on its exact causes. 

While waiting to consult the attending physician and to increase the effectiveness of the treatment, it is possible with these tips to improve the sleeping conditions of your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. 

How to get dementia patients to sleep at night: 12 tips for better sleep

Advice that applies to anyone who may have trouble sleeping also applies to someone with Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, or other addictive illnesses.

We therefore recommend: 

  • Monitor the room temperature. A room that is too heated does not allow you to have a good sleep
  • Do some physical activity every day, something that stimulates the mind as well, but only do restful activities from the end of the afternoon? 
  • Use a lamp that gradually dims the light before going to bed, and that simulates the sunrise when you wake up. 
  • Use the bedroom only for sleeping. If you work or have leisure activities in the bedroom, your brain no longer necessarily associates going to bed with falling asleep. Even if the person moves little, it is therefore recommended to suggest that they spend the day in the chair rather than in bed.
  • Avoid drinking coffee or tea during the day, or sugary foods in the evening. 
  • Switch off screens at least 1 hour before going to bed. It is better to listen to music or read in the late evening. 

In addition to these tips, some specific tips can be offered for someone with dementia: 

  • Put a phosphorescent sign on the bedroom and toilet door, or draw a path with phosphorescent tape. 
  • Provide a chair in the bedroom, as well as water and something to eat in case of nighttime hunger. 
  • A very regular rhythm for mealtime and bedtime. The body and the spirit thus know what is to come and can prepare for it. You can create new habits and rituals for her before bedtime. For example, a meal followed by reading or soft music, a snack with a hot drink then going to the bathroom before going to the bedroom. 
  • You can remove daytime clothes from the person’s bedroom, so they won’t be tempted to get dressed the moment they wake up. 
  • Make sure that the person sees enough daylight during the day so that they can orient themselves in time and know that the artificial light comes on when bedtime approaches. If the person cannot go out to enjoy the sun, there are light therapy lamps that can help. 
  • If the person can no longer tell the time, they may simply not know whether it is a reasonable time to get up or not. Children have the same concern, and parents have found a solution. It is an alarm clock that does not diffuse the same color depending on the time. Thus, it broadcasts the image of a sleepy character when he needs to sleep, a yellow color when he can wake up quietly and green color when he can wake up without any problem. There are different models, some of which also offer relaxing sounds to help the person fall asleep. 

What if they wake up in the middle of the night? 

The first thing is to try not to get upset. They’re not doing this against you. They don’t even realize they woke you up at very, very early morning. 

 

If they wake up, direct them to a rather calm activity, in the hope that they can go back to sleep. Television, for example, should be avoided. The light from the screen will wake them up, and the program can irritate them as well.

Instead, direct them to read, listen to soft music, and massages. Then, they may eventually be able to fall asleep again. 

Try to keep them from getting too much sleep during the day. While it’s common for older people to take a mid-day nap, they’re not supposed to take 5! A nap after lunch is enough, and it shouldn’t last too long. 

At first, your loved one may be distressed or upset if you don’t let them sleep, but it will help them gradually reset. Because if you only let them sleep at night, their body will take the opportunity to sleep at night without waking up unexpectedly.

How can a lack of sleep increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease?

alzheimer's disease symptoms

A good night’s sleep promotes a healthy brain that is more resistant to the onset of symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

As researchers continue to demystify Alzheimer’s, discover its causes and search for a cure, we can all take charge of our brain health. 

Keep your mind strong by adopting a healthy lifestyle and good sleep habits. Turn off your devices, bundle up with a nice cup of herbal tea, read something relaxing and positive before you go to bed for a restful, restful sleep. Your brain will thank you for it.  

At Justin Villa Care, A our licenced in-home caregiver for elderly will be in charge of controlling the patient’s pills so that they take the indicated medication at all times and in the correct doses. We offer the best care to our elders!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Doha

Doha

Doha Isleta, L.V.N. has been the Client Care Manager at Justin Villa Care, LLC for over 10 years. She oversees each client case and makes sure that families are confident in the caregiver that they choose. She looks forward to helping you or your loved one live at home safely and independently.

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Our caregivers and staff have received communication and training in:

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