If it seems like a loved one with Alzheimer’s has entirely rewritten the rules on when and how to sleep, you’re not dreaming. For reasons that aren’t yet completely understood, a number of people with Alzheimer’s experience changes to their circadian rhythm, leading to sleepless nights and drowsy days.
The development of the disease is one contributing factor. Damage to brain cells causes increased weakness, making daily activities and tasks exhausting. Medication side effects from commonly-prescribed dementia treatments can further aggravate the issue.
Why a Good Night’s Sleep Is Crucial for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s
Sleeping problems with Alzheimer’s may bring about an increase in restlessness and delusions, and can result in serious safety concerns, such as the potential for the senior to wander away and become injured or lost. Not only that, but an older adult who is sleepy throughout the day can also be less likely to want to engage in healthy activities, such as spending time outdoors and exercising.
And, for a busy family caregiver who also needs rest and sleep, it may be quite a challenge to fulfill all of the person’s care needs during the day and throughout the night as well.
Tips on How to Help
Try these strategies for a person whose sleep patterns are interrupted:
- Speak to the health care provider for a review of medications. Modifying the dosage timing every day may be all it takes to make a difference.
- Stick to a routine, waking up and going to bed at the same time each day, limiting naps, caffeine, and heavy meals later in the day.
- Incorporate bedtime activities that are soothing, such as a warm bath, turning off the television and playing quiet, calming music, or reading.
- If wandering is a problem, a wireless bed exit pad can alert you when the senior gets up so that you can help.
- Try placing a clock that differentiates between daytime and nighttime near the senior’s bed.
You may want to encourage the senior to try sleeping on their side rather than the back or stomach as well. Recent reports revealed a potential link between side sleeping and more effective clearing of brain waste, such as excess beta-amyloid. Note that this research was conducted on laboratory animals and it is unclear yet whether or not the results carry over to humans.
Atlanta Home Care Partners is available to help as well with our home health care in Buckhead, GA and the surrounding areas. With overnight caregivers who are alert, awake, and looking after the older adult’s needs throughout the night, you can get the rest you need. Our care team members are fully trained and experienced in creative, patient approaches to meeting the unique care needs of those with Alzheimer’s disease. Contact us online or at 404-228-0103 for more information on our specialized in-home Alzheimer’s care services.