It’s common for those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia to have sleep problems. This can create tension in the family because those around them don’t get sleep either. In addition, not getting enough sleep often intensifies the symptoms of dementia.
Dementia & Sleep Complications
It’s important for those with dementia to get enough sleep, especially for their caregivers. It’s possible to improve sleep problems in dementia patients by taking effort to evaluate and improve their issues. Knowing the key things to look for and providing this information to their doctor can lead to answers. We provide you with the common causes of sleep problems, how they should be evaluated, and approaches to help them.
What are the Causes of Sleep Changes
A reoccurring lack of sleep can be caused by a multitude of problems, such as:
Aging: It’s common as we age that our sleep patterns change. These changes can occur in the form of lighter and more fragmented sleep, spending less time in deep REM sleep. Our sleep can even decrease by 28 minutes per decade, beginning in our 50’s. With lighter sleep it’s more common to be woken up during the night, especially with the typical aches and pains of growing older.
Medical Conditions and Medications: Underlying health problems can cause sleeping difficulties. Those that are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s typically have additional health problems that affect sleep. Treating these problems can help improve sleep. Some of these health issues could be arthritis, enlarged prostate, depression, and gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Sleep Disorders: Sleeping disorders, such as sleep apnea, affect 50% of seniors. Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain — and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen.
Alzheimer’s: This disease leads to deterioration of the brain that affects sleeping patterns. This causes less deep-sleep and more awake time at night. The circadian rhythm system that aligns the body to a 24-hour day becomes disrupted.
How to Improve Sleep
There are certain approaches to take in improving the quality of sleep:
Get Outside: Being exposed to natural light helps keep the circadian signals on track. If you can’t get outside bright light therapy can help with this. This will help your bodies natural clock know what time of day it is for better sleep.
Get Physical: Walking or doing some sort of exercise during the day can help improve getting a good night’s sleep. Your body becomes more relaxed after exercise making it easier to fall asleep.
Environment: Create an environment that allows for good sleep, such as a dark and quiet room. Stay off technology the first hour before bed to allow the mind time to relax.
Routine: Having a stable sleeping routine can help maintain better sleep. It’s important to have a regular bedtime and wake-up time. This will put your body in a rhythm for getting a good night’s rest.
The Victorian Assisted Living and Retirement Community
The Victorian is an assisted living and retirement community that makes living independently, while at the same time feeling safe and secure, a reality. We strive to provide the best quality of life for all residents including those suffering from loneliness and depression.
We offer a comprehensive activity program that includes both physical and social activities to encourage emotional wellbeing. Our staff is trained to assist those with depression. If you or a loved one are considering assisted living, contact The Victorian today to learn more about our services or tour our community.