Sleep disturbances can take a huge toll on both caregivers and a loved one who has Alzheimer’s. That’s because the disease goes hand in hand with a lack of restful sleep. In order to curb those disturbances, it’s vital to know what causes them.
Many older adults find that sleep becomes elusive as they continue to age. It’s even worse for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, as the condition can seemingly reverse the natural circadian rhythm. This can lead to daytime drowsiness and nighttime sleeplessness. These disturbances only increase as the disease progresses. Some people are forced to completely replace nighttime sleep with multiple naps throughout the daytime.
How Can You Encourage Quality Sleep?
There are some trusted tricks of the trade that caregivers can focus on when trying to promote healthy sleep patterns. A few of the most effective tips are as follows:
- Shed some light on the situation: If you can get your loved one into the sunshine for just a few hours a day, it can help to improve his or her sleep. During the winter months, you can substitute sunshine with light therapy.
- Kick the caffeine: Caffeine that is found in soda, tea, coffee and other beverages may add to the lack of sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant and makes it hard for some people to wind down at night when it’s time to go to bed.
- Medication management: If your loved one takes any kind of medication that provides a stimulating effect, these are best taken in the morning. On the other hand, medications that cause drowsiness should be administered at night. Sleeping pills are usually contraindicated for people with Alzheimer’s, as they can increase confusion and decrease coordination.
- Exercise regularly: When people suffering with Alzheimer’s take the time to perform daily activities, it can help to promote healthy sleep patterns. Try going for a walk each morning or doing age-appropriate yoga.
- Establish a routine and stick with it: Each night, you should do the same things in the same way once it’s time for bed. Once a routine is established, do not deviate from it. For example, brushing teeth, showering and playing some soothing music may be a good nightly routine to signal bedtime.