How to Manage Sleep Problems Caused by Alzheimer's Disease

Sunrise Senior Living  |  February 23, 2018
How to Manage Sleep Problems Caused by Alzheimer's Disease
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Sleep problems are common at all stages of Alzheimer’s disease. A lack of sleep can be tough on both the person living with the disease and on the loved one who is caring for them.

Why do People with Alzheimer’s Suffer Sleep Problems?

Many seniors have problems sleeping. In fact, almost half of all older adults say they suffer some form of insomnia. The National Institutes of Health says some of the most common reasons older adults suffer sleep disturbances are:  

  • Depression
  • Health conditions
  • Lack of exercise
  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
  • Medication side effects
  • Sleep apnea
But for adults with Alzheimer’s, insomnia can be even more pronounced. In fact, people with the disease may go for prolonged periods of time with little more than a quick nap. 

Scientists aren’t quite sure why Alzheimer’s causes sleep problems, but they have a theory. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, it causes physical damage to the brain. That damage, scientists hypothesize, might disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, making it difficult to get to sleep and even harder to stay asleep.

Managing Sleep Problems Caused by Alzheimer’s Before you talk with your physician about medical interventions to help you sleep better, you might want to consider natural remedies. A few to try include:
  • Avoid caffeinated foods and beverages, especially later in the day.
  • Stick with a structured routine each day.
  • Make exercise a regular part of your schedule.
  • Maintain a cool temperature in the bedroom.
  • Eat meals at regular times, and avoid eating close to bedtime.
  • Try aromatherapy, such as diffusing the relaxing scent of lavender in the bedroom.
  • Ask your doctor if any of your medications might be contributing to the insomnia.
Medication to Help Adults with Alzheimer’s Sleep Better

Physicians are sometimes reluctant to prescribe sleep medication for people with Alzheimer’s because of possible negative side effects. But if natural remedies are not helping, medication may be an option. Talk with your doctor to learn more.

Memory Care at Sunrise

If you are beginning to search for a memory care program for a loved one, we hope you will consider Sunrise. Our memory care programs focus on providing personalized care and offer opportunities for enrichment and fulfillment each day. Our life enrichment managers are trained in Validation Techniques.

We’d love the opportunity to show you around and answer all of your questions. Book a tour at your convenience to learn more!


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