Updated May 25th, 2024 at 20:02 IST

How To Manage Dementia-Related Sleep Issues

A critical factor in sleep regulation is the body clock, which synchronizes sleep with natural light and daily activities. Dementia impairs this clock.

Dementia affects on sleep. | Image:Unsplash
Advertisement

Dementia often brings a host of sleep-related challenges for those affected. Understanding why dementia impacts sleep and how to manage it can significantly improve the quality of life for patients and their caregivers.

Why Dementia affects sleep? 

As people age, particularly those over 55, sleep quality tends to decline, and dementia exacerbates this issue. Dementia alters brain function, disrupting sleep regulation. Most adults require 7 to 8 hours of sleep nightly, but dementia can either reduce this amount or cause excessive sleep at inappropriate times.

A critical factor in sleep regulation is the body clock, which synchronizes sleep with natural light and daily activities. Dementia impairs this clock, leading to irregular sleep patterns. Additionally, dementia decreases sensitivity to sleep pressure, the natural drive to sleep after being awake, causing further sleep disturbances.

Advertisement
Image credit:
Image credit:

Types of dementia and sleep disorders

Different forms of dementia affect sleep in varying ways:

Advertisement

Alzheimer’s Disease: Responsible for 60% to 80% of all dementia cases, it often leads to insomnia and fragmented sleep.

Lewy Body Dementia (LBD): Includes Parkinson’s disease dementia, commonly associated with vivid dreams and daytime sleepiness.

Advertisement

Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD): May cause sleep disturbances and changes in behavior.

Vascular Dementia: Often linked to sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.

Advertisement
Image credit: Unsplash
Image credit: Unsplash

Common Sleep Issues in dementia

Insomnia is prevalent among dementia patients, characterized by difficulties in falling or staying asleep. This can result in anxiety, irritability, depression, and a lack of energy, further complicating the management of dementia. Factors contributing to insomnia include:

Advertisement

Health Concerns: Conditions like breathing or urinary problems.

Mental Health: Issues such as depression or anxiety.

Advertisement

Pain: Chronic pain can severely disrupt sleep.

Medication Side Effects: Some medications can interfere with sleep patterns.

Advertisement

 

Managing sleep in dementia

Several strategies can help manage sleep problems in dementia patients:

Medical Interventions: Doctors may address underlying causes of insomnia and recommend treatments like melatonin, or medications such as trazodone or mirtazapine

Advertisement

Lifestyle Adjustments: Light therapy and avoiding stimulants like caffeine and alcohol can improve sleep quality.

Routine and Environment: Establishing a consistent sleep schedule and creating a calming bedtime environment can also be beneficial.

Advertisement

Published May 25th, 2024 at 20:02 IST