5 Ways to Regulate Sleep in Severe Dementia

People with severe dementia sometimes begin to sleep more by day, only to awaken at night. The day-night mix-ups can disrupt an entire household.

Some tactics to cope:

1. Always mention changing sleep habits to the doctor. You want to rule out causes other than the progression of dementia (such an infection or depression), since this change doesn't happen with everyone.

2. Beef up the bedtime routine. Habitual events like drinking warm milk, listening to soft music, and so on can provide sleep "cues" even if the person has slept earlier.

3. Use "wake cues" to shorten daytime naps. These include not closing shades in the room, not keeping things extra quiet, and letting the phone ring several times before answering.

4. Don't let naps take place in bed. The sofa or a recliner will usually ensure shorter naps. If you have paid caregivers, ask them to strip the bed in the morning and make it up again at bedtime.

5. Make sure that your loved one is exposed to daylight. In later dementia, people tend to be more bedbound and housebound. Getting morning light is important to help regulate the body's internal clock, so try taking a walk (or pushing the person in a wheelchair) or sitting on a sunny porch.


4 months ago, said...

My wife has problems. Chewing and swallowing. She gets confused with what to chew and what to swallow. As an example she wants to chew her pills and I sit with her to reminder to swallow. Where possible I mash her pills and mix them with yogurt or Apple sauce.


almost 2 years ago, said...

Thank you for so many ideas about ways to help my husband's aunt on the right schedule!


almost 2 years ago, said...

None of these are helpful, as I have tried all. Cannot keep him busy enough during the day. Is not interested in tv or doing anything outside. It does not matter if the sun is shinning in the windows. Sleeps off and on all day in recliner. Up and down most of the night wanting to get up. Up at 3 or 4in the morning. I am putting his clothes on so that he can go to the recliner and maybe I can sleep another hour in the other recliner. Real problem here with sleeping habits. Tried to push him to stay up a littler later in the evening, but he gets angry and irritable, like a child that needs to go to bed. 7:30 in bedtime. Up again at 10:30 and on and on. Need other suggestions.


almost 2 years ago, said...

This is pretty good advice, things I was kinda doing already! I don't let 'T' sleep longer than 1/2hour a day. We keep bedtime the same routine and time every night. I take fluids away at 7:00pm every night to cut back on wake-ups during the night. Is it so wrong to give my mommom a Tylenol PM before bedtime to help with sleep as well?


about 2 years ago, said...

I am trial and error here, I read all posts above and it sounds to the point to home here. I noticed when my mom is up alot, talking all night long and not sleeping I take her to the ER only to find she has a UTI (Urinary Track Infection) or upper chest infection an infection is arising somewhere and they are more confused and not saying much when this happens to them. Nature way of alerting us loved ones caring for them. Seek medical help. I did and now she is back to sleeping at nights. We go in hospital at least once every other month as this comes back often for their age as she just turned 87 yrs. Hope this helps anyone here.


about 2 years ago, said...

My mother has all the above done, and it does help in the full night sleep too. She tells me to turn the lights off as the sun from the windows are too bright for her, I ignore her requests and she is sound asleep now, but my pattern needs to change now...as I was up all night with her.....


over 2 years ago, said...

Some ideas to help my FIL sleep, thereby helping me sleep!


almost 3 years ago, said...

Great tips to try - I never thought of the idea that a nap in bed might be longer or lead to more "bed like" behaviors than a couch or recliner.


over 3 years ago, said...

What I dislike is memory was not fully eliminated but trying to remember the important information is getting harder to do. Dreams anger and frustrate me.


almost 4 years ago, said...

My husband sleeps more and more, hard to regulate if at all.


almost 4 years ago, said...

My dad has gotten so much worse lately, he has at least 2 nights a week where he stays up yelling and talking all night. His caregiver tries and tries to keep him awake during the day and gets so worried when she can't and he has been getting upset and yelling at her. I've told her not to worry. I hate giving him the medication the doctor has prescribed cause then he sleeps for 24 hours and won't eat. He will sleep in his recliner for hours, we open the blinds everyday, he won't wear his hearing aid so we can't play music. Nothing seems to work. What do the nursing homes do? They have alot of people to care for. Do they have a secret?


over 4 years ago, said...

sleep issues are one of the big deals for us. this information is solid and good especially the exposure to natural light.


almost 5 years ago, said...

My Mother she is 82 now. has Alzheimer's since last 6 to seven years. Since a week now her body clock has completely changed. She sleeps in the day and is fully awake by night and is constantly talking and wishes that we should keep on communicating with her incoherent talks. Since a couple of days she has not slept in the day or night . Can any body help


almost 5 years ago, said...

Thank you for the article. My patient is usually easy to care for. I've been having a difficult time, lately, because she wants to wander at night. More exercise in the day, no snoozing after lunch. Good idea. I'll have her daughter tell the doctor, as well. Blessings, Gloria


almost 5 years ago, said...

I have both parents with alzheimers living with me. At times they both have sleep issues, and not usually on the same nights. I can usually redirect but sometimes nothing helps. I avoid medications as much as possible but even with the arsenal I have at my disposal, even that doesn't work. Being alone with them, I don't have a tag team that sometimes works better. I'm very furstrated. I work full time and can't miss work I'm running on empty. Thank you for the tips, I will put them to practice tomorrow.....Roger, Hugs and prayers to every one in the entire world dealing with this madness.


almost 5 years ago, said...

I found the information I was looking for. Thank you.


almost 5 years ago, said...

Day time sleeping habits and exposure to light.


about 5 years ago, said...

Help. My mother has started talking a couple times a week all night long. It's driveing me crazy. It started out that she would wake up around 3 am and start up. But now it's all night long. It is constant non stop talkng. The longer it goes the louder it gets and the more aggitated she becomes. I become her target of aggresion. I move out of sight but many times that doesn't work. Then falls asleep around 5 am. Then you can imagine what the next day is like. When this happens I move her out of the bedroom for fear she will wake up my tenants who have thier bedroom above hers. I have tried Benadryl when I can get it down her. Sometimes it doen't work even if she takes it. Help I need to sleep too. I have tried sleeping pills , Ambein but then she sleeps for 2 days. No matter what you do you can't wake her. She has dialysis 3 times a week. She also will fall a sleep sometimes in the afternoon. It takes 2 to 3 hours to wake her with constant prauding. I have in the past even taken her to the ER. When she does wake from these naps she is very aggitated. I try my best not to let her take naps. But what to do? Does anyone out there have any ideas on what to do? Another big problem I'm haveing is when I am trying to prepare her for bed. Most every night when I take her to the toilet the minute I take her under pants down all hell brakes loose. Hit, spit, kick, bite, the mouth of a sailor. I am male and I know something must have happen to as a child and young teen. My nieghbor lady comes over to help pull up her pants because I can't hold her up and pull it up myself with all that going on. She seems to love our nieghbor but at times will hit her too. I really dread the hour between 7 and 8 pm. And then she can be as sweet as can be. I love those times I can't handle not being able to sleep HELP. WRS


about 5 years ago, said...

My MIL is taking many naps lately; so the advice to make sure the naps during the day do not take place in her bed to shorten her naps, is something I am going to try to implement. She is not sleeping thru the night at this time, so I will see if this will help getting her back to a more normal sleeping routine. I plan on using all of your tips starting today as they all make perfectly good sense to me. Thank you