Sleep and Alzheimer Disease

People often assume as we get older, we need less sleep. (This is true for many people). However the opposite can be said for others. Basically everyone has their own sleeping pattern which suits them best.

The sleep needs of an Alzheimers disease sufferer may not change, but what often happens is their cycle becomes reversed.  In other words, they may want to sleep all day and be wide awake at night.

This isn’t a problem in itself though it can be very distressing (and tiring) for their carers especially if they become disruptive and noisy by moving around in the main acting as though it is the daytime.

It’s very tempting to use medication to help the Alzheimer’s disease sufferer sleep at night though eventually it may become necessary. Sleeping sedatives can often exacerbate their confusional mental state which then makes the person more difficult to care for. (It’s a vicious circle).

A small glass of their favourite tipple is often a good idea, as is a warm drink, though remember urinary incontinence may need to be considered.

It’s much more appropriate to keep the alzheimer’s sufferer awake as long as possible during the day though it’s often tempting to let them sleep for long periods as it gives the carer some respite to do chores have a few minutes, or even take a nap themselves.

Make sure it isn’t other problems causing the restless nights; this could include incontinence, night cramps or joint pain. Sometimes even two paracetamol just before bedtime can alleviate some of these problems, so it’s worth checking out.

Keeping the alzheimer sufferer gently active during the day is a good way of helping them to re-establish a sleeping pattern where they settle again at night.

If this proves to be unworkable, many people use night sitting services. These can be very useful as the alzheimer sufferer is able to wander about closely supervised, and the carer is able to have a few nights undisturbed sleep.

Even if a service like this can only be used for one or two nights a week, at least the carer is getting some quality sleep.

Alzheimer's Disease Guide

Alzheimers Disease
History of Alzheimer's Disease
Types of Dementia
Risk Factors for Alzheimer's Disease
Diagnosing Alzheimer's Disease
Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease
Memory loss in Alzheimers disease
Disorientation and Alzheimers Disease
Disorientation and Alzheimers disease in the home
Alzheimers Disease and Personality
Alzheimer’s disease and Communication
Alzheimer’s disease and sexual behaviour
Alzheimers disease and Risk
Sleep and Alzheimer Disease
Malnutrition and Alzheimer’s disease

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