Dementia sleep problems are a common condition in many seniors. And since approximately 5.8 million Americans aged 65 and above live with dementia, these problems affect a large number of people
While it’s normal to experience sleep troubles when one is healthy, it may also be an early warning of dementia. These problems only worsen as other Alzheimer’s symptoms begin to manifest. In this guide, we’ll look at the common sleep disorders affecting seniors and how to approach these issues.
Common Sleep Disorders
There are many sleep disorders linked to dementia, including insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and circadian rhythm problems.
- Insomnia: A condition that makes it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or sleep deeply enough to truly be rested. It usually results in changes in some parts of the brain, increasing the chances of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): This condition occurs when the throat muscles relax as you sleep, making it hard to breathe. Studies reveal that people with this condition may have a higher chance of getting dementia.
- REM Behavior Disorder (RBD): More common in patients with Parkinson’s disease, this condition causes the body to move around more than usual during the dream phase of sleep, causing the quality of the patient’s sleep to suffer.
- Circadian rhythm problems: Dementia affects a patient’s sleep cycle, causing them to feel awake during the night and sleepy during the day. This confuses the brain and the body and leads to a significant reduction in sleep quality.
Not Enough Sleep
Too little sleep can increase the chances of getting Alzheimer’s and dementia. Sleeping less than seven hours is known to increase proteins linked to Alzheimer’s, as well as potentially disrupting the patient’s memory storage. On the other hand, sleeping longer is known to improve one’s health in a variety of ways. Doctors still can’t fully explain why eight hours or more of sleep is so healthy, but the fact remains that it is.
How to Get Back in Sync
If you suspect your senior loved one has dementia sleep problems, you can help them get enough rest for better health. Here are a few things to try out:
- Help them establish a consistent sleep routine
- Encourage them to spend more time in the sun
- Limit their consumption of alcohol or caffeine
- Check for underlying medical issues
- Create a soothing or calming environment
If the issues are too severe to deal with on your own, visit a doctor to help you find the cause. Be prepared to provide their medical history and current medication regimen so the doctor can narrow down the problem.
Pro Tip: Some medications usually have side effects that can affect sleep. Find out the side effects of any medication you use if you develop poor sleep habits.
Improving the Sleep Quality of Seniors with Dementia
Dementia and sleep disorders tend to go hand in hand, and both deserve extensive medical attention. Helping your elderly loved ones get a good night’s sleep can work wonders for both their physical and mental health.
Contact us to learn more about dementia sleep issues affecting seniors.