Alzheimer Specialists Take Note Of Sleep Changes
When to take notice of common sleep changes in Charlotte alzheimer’s patients
People with Alzheimer’s often have problems with sleeping or may experience changes in their sleep schedule. Scientists do not completely understand why these sleep disturbances occur. As with changes in memory and behavior, sleep changes somehow result from the impact of
Alzheimer’s on the brain. When managing sleep changes, non-drug coping strategies should always be tried first.
Common sleep changes:
Many older adults without dementia also notice changes in their sleep, but these disturbances occur more frequently and tend to be more severe in Alzheimer’s. There is evidence that sleep changes are more common in later stages of the disease, but some studies have also found them in early stages.
Sleep changes in Alzheimer’s may include:
Difficulty sleeping: Many people with Alzheimer’s wake up more often and stay awake longer during the night. Brain wave studies show decreases in both dreaming and non-dreaming sleep stages. Those who cannot sleep may wander, be unable to lie still, or yell or call out, disrupting the sleep of their caregivers.
Daytime napping and other shifts in the sleep-wake cycle:
Individuals may feel very drowsy during the day and then be unable to sleep at night. They may become restless or agitated in the late afternoon or early evening, an experience often called “sundowning.” Experts estimate that in late stages of Alzheimer’s, individuals spend about 40 percent of their time in bed at night awake and a significant part of their daytime sleeping. In extreme cases, people may have a complete reversal of the usual daytime wakefulness-nighttime sleep pattern.
Non-drug treatments for sleep changes
Non-drug treatments aim to improve sleep routine and the sleeping environment and reduce daytime napping. Non-drug coping strategies should always be tried before medications, since some sleep medications can cause serious side effects.
To create an inviting sleeping environment and promote rest for a person with Alzheimer’s try the following:
- Maintain regular times for meals and for going to bed and getting up
- Seek morning sunlight exposure
- Encourage regular daily exercise, but no later than four hours before bedtime
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine, Treat any pain
- If the person is taking a cholinesterase inhibitor (tacrine, donepezil, rivastigmine or galantamine), avoid giving the medicine before bed
- Make sure the bedroom temperature is comfortable
- Provide nightlights and security objects
- If the person awakens, discourage staying in bed while awake; use the bed only for sleep
- Discourage watching television during periods of wakefulness
For more research and information visit the Alzheimer’s Association CLICK HERE!
BrightStar Care of Charlotte, NC provides a full continuum of home care services comprised of companionship, personal care, dementia/Alzheimer’s care, transportation, medication assistance, skilled nursing and more to improve our clients’ health and quality of life.
To learn more about our local team of caregivers, skilled healthcare professionals, and home health care support for Charlotte, NC families and businesses - CLICK HERE