Dementia and its effects on sleep
People with dementia can find that they experience problems with sleep. They may doze during the day as they feel drowsy, find it difficult to get to sleep at night and regularly wake up.
Sleep is important to our wellbeing, so it is important that people with dementia get a good night’s sleep to help them function well and lead a good quality of life.
In this blog, we will look at what can cause sleep problems in someone with dementia, and ways in which you can help them to get the best possible sleep.
What can cause the sleep disruptions?
Sleep disturbances can be linked to ‘sundowning’. This is when someone with dementia feels more restless and confused in the evening, as the sun sets and it becomes dark outside.
However, it is important to remember that many other factors may be impacting their ability to sleep well. There may be an undiagnosed medical issue such as untreated pain, depression or sleep apnoea, and their medication may even be keeping them awake.
If someone with dementia is struggling with sleep, it is always a good idea to get a doctor to assess them to determine if they need any further support or different medication.
How to promote a better sleep routine
There are steps you can take to help a person to get better sleep and develop a routine. These include:
- Making sure they wake up at the same time every morning
- Getting plenty of sunlight, particularly in the morning
- Encouraging daily exercise, but no later than four hours before bed
- Limiting daytime napping in the late afternoon
- Making sure they aren’t napping out of boredom
- Maintaining regular times for meals
- Avoiding caffeine after lunchtime
- Avoiding nicotine and alcohol in the hours before bed
- Ensuring their bedroom is a comfortable temperature with no noise and bright lights
- Having photos and prized possessions in their bedroom to help them feel more secure
- Using clocks that show whether it is day or night time, which are easily visible from the person’s bed
Remember that everyone needs different levels of sleep. This doesn’t change when someone has dementia, so it is always worth speaking to the person if they appear to be having trouble sleeping.
If a person is awake at a time when they typically should be sleeping, give them comfort and reassurance to help them relax. Try to establish a cause for them being awake, as they may be in pain. Sit with them for a while in a quiet room with low lighting before guiding them back to bed.
Dementia support with Priory Adult Care
At Priory Adult Care, we understand that caring for a loved one can be incredibly difficult. Our respite services can give you the opportunity to have a break so that you can recharge your batteries while your loved one stays in a temporary retreat with 24 hour care.
For longer term stays, we also have care homes across the UK that have been developed to meet the needs of residents with dementia, where our dedicated and compassionate team members work to make sure those in our care are safe, reassured and as happy as possible.
If you would like to find out more about the services available at Priory Adult Care, you can make an enquiry online. You can also call us on 0808 159 3772 to speak to someone directly.