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Sleep and Alzheimer’s: 6 Ideas to Help Those With Dementia Get Better Rest

Sleep and Alzheimer’s: 6 Ideas to Help Those With Dementia Get Better Rest

Sleep is critical to our overall well-being. Unfortunately, the National Sleep Foundation says most people do not get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Their research also indicates that even though older adults have changing sleep patterns, they still need between 7-8 hours of sleep to maintain their health. One study suggests that sleep deprivation may increase dementia risk by 20%. 

For those already living with dementia, lack of sleep not only hurts their overall health, but it may be detrimental to their caregivers as well. Let’s look at some ideas to help those with dementia get the rest they need, and if you need Alzheimer’s care in Lincoln NE to help with your loved ones, you should consider CountryHouse, with our memory care professionals.

Tips for Better Rest

#1) Check for Other Medical Conditions:

With advancing age, a number of other conditions could occur that result in an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, and these should be checked for if those with dementia are having trouble sleeping. For instance, one serious condition could be sleep apnea, which results in breathing pausing or stopping. Sleep apnea can be scary for those suffering with it. 

Another issue could be restless leg syndrome, which results in odd feelings in people’s legs making it difficult to sleep. Although there are medications for this, it can often be eased by stretching or rubbing the legs instead. 

#2) Review Medications:

Side effects of dementia drugs and other medications can result in restless sleep or being unable to fall asleep. It is a good idea to discuss the issue with a doctor rather than simply trying to correct it yourself. There may be a better time of the day to take the medications, or there may be a different type of medication that would work without that side effect. 

It is not a good idea to add sleeping medication to individuals’ routines without doctor approval because taking them can lead to further worsening of cognition and leave individuals more apt to fall.

#3) Keep Individual Active:

Although it is easy to spend the day sitting and watching television or something like that, it is critical that you keep your loved ones active. So, plan activities like going for walks, playing games, or doing crafts. 

If your loved ones seem to need a nap during the day, schedule the time into their day. Naps should be short and taken at the same time each day to keep them from interfering with a good night’s sleep.

#4) Get Lighting Right:

First of all, spending some time in natural light, preferably outdoors, helps regulate people’s body clocks which helps them sleep better at night. In addition, light therapy is used to help both sleep patterns and mood issues, so working with light to encourage sleep makes perfect sense. 

At night time, especially during those months when it doesn’t get dark outside until very late, it can be a good idea to use blackout curtains. These will also help people fall asleep and sleep longer in the morning by blocking light and other disturbances. 

#5) Adjust Eating and Drinking Intake:

Trying to sleep after a large meal is difficult, so making sure your loved ones eat earlier in the evening and only partake in small snacks later in the evening can help tremendously. In addition, limiting sugar, caffeine and alcohol, which are all stimulants, can help sleep. 

Even though you are avoiding these drinks, it is critical for your loved ones to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. It is best to drink most of the water early to mid day rather than later at night. Dehydration can lead to leg cramps, confusion, and urinary tract infections (UTI), so it is critical to drink plenty of fluids. 

If you are unsure if food or drink intake is resulting in sleep issues, you might consider maintaining a journal listing sleep patterns, eating and drinking habits, and medication intake to help discover what might be the cause. 

#6) Get into a Routine:

A consistent routine can assist in regulating individuals’ circadian rhythms, which influences when people get hungry, when certain hormones are released into the body, and when people feel sleepy or alert. 

Finding a memory care residence where routines are set can help you and your loved ones feel comfortable about the care they will receive and the activities. Always check out meal routines and other activities provided.

Regulating the body clock can help with overall well-being. Doing routine tasks and activities at the same time each day can help better establish sleep patterns. These items might include brushing teeth, listening to music, and taking a bath. 

Adding a welcoming scent to your nighttime routine is also a good idea. There are scented pillow sprays with lavender or eucalyptus to help relax individuals, so they can sleep more soundly. 

Reasons for Alzheimer’s care in Lincoln NE

There are many disruptions that can affect sleep; however, the disruption of the body’s circadian rhythm can impact the sleeping cycle and can sometimes be so severe that people get days and nights turned around. Sundowning, where individuals become anxious and unsettled in the late afternoons and evenings, is an effect of that disruption.

Since the amount and quality of sleep affects everyone, it’s crucial for older adults to maintain solid sleep routines. The Sleep Foundation organization stresses the need to follow steps to help sleep as aging because lack of sleep contributes to many health concerns and can affect the quality of life for your loved ones. 

If you need assistance in caring for your loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia related diseases, take a look at our living arrangements at CountryHouse and all we have to offer.  We at CountryHouse would love to visit with you about our expert Alzheimer’s care in Lincoln NE. We even offer tips for your family with transition support ideas because we know moving into a memory care residence is a big step. Let us help you!

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