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Is a lot of sleeping normal for Alzheimer's?

16 answers | Last updated: Aug 03, 2015
An anonymous caregiver asked...

My mother has Alzheimer's. There are days when she is ok, and then overnight, she will sleep the whole day. Is this normal?


Caring.com User - Ken Robbins, M.D.
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Kenneth Robbins, M.D., is a senior medical editor of Caring.com. He is board certified in psychiatry and internal medicine, has a master's in public...
71% helpful
Ken Robbins, M.D. answered...

It is not unusual that people with Alzheimer's Disease develop a markedly variable sleep schedule. This is a disease that causes a loss of brain cells and interferes with communication See also:
My dad has Alzheimer's and is shouting all the time. How can I get him to quiet down?

See all 1033 questions about Alzheimer's and Other Dementias
between many of the remaining cells. The control center for sleep is located in the middle of the brain, and Alzheimer's Disease can wreak havoc in that center, which can lead to the kind of problem your mom is having.

It is important for your mom to be evaluated by her physician for her problem with intermittent excess sleeping. In general, people with Alzheimer's Disease feel better and think more clearly if they are on a more regular sleep schedule. It may be she has some other medical problem, a psychiatric problem or is on a medication that is playing a role in this. It may also be she will need a medication to better regulate her sleeping. In most cases, this is a fixable problem, and such a fix will likely improve her energy, mood and concentration.


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52% helpful
An anonymous caregiver answered...

Meds Meds and more meds! I hope families step up. Most meds cause more problems and they treat those problems with more meds!


55% helpful
Dottee answered...

Hi everyone, I am so glad the Internet exists. I am all alone with my Pa and I love him so much and today we had a "dip" day as I like to refer to the days when he is not himself and fuzzy in the head. Anyhow, thanks for the sleep advice. Today my Pa was so tired and it was a beautiful fresh sunny day and normally we would go for at least three long walks but today only one and loads of naps followed with his request to go to sleep at 6pm! Dad usually goes to bed at 9pm or later but today I tucked him into bed at 8:30. Yesterday Dad was right as rain and stuck to our daily schedule of breakfast, walk, read newspapers, lunch, walk, newspapers, nap and then another walk an hour before 6pm newshour and dinner. Today, wham! Different man, tuckered man, confused and not interested in conversation, confused to the enth degree. Today freaked me out. Sorry I just had to spill I know all of you are going through some stage of this so phew and breathe and thanks for being there all of you :)


53% helpful
MartineM answered...

Dottee: It sounds as though you are taking wonderful care of your father. Have you tried B12 shots? I think they are wonderful for aging people, especially those who don't like to take their vitamins.


56% helpful
Dottee answered...

Hi Martine,

Thanks for the advice I am taking Dad to a naturopath. It turns out my father had a urinary tract infection which I have since learned from our family physician is quite common amongst seniors. Now I know the symptoms; tired, incoherent sentences, lack of appetite and sluggishness. After a course of cipro Dad is right as rain, healthy appetite, focus is back and excercising two hours a day.


72% helpful
Muggins answered...

My spouse, diagnosed with moderate dementia two years ago, is now sleeping about 12 hours every night. He goes to bed about 10 pm and never awakes (except for bathroom needs) until 11 am or noon the next day. There is no nap, of course, because of this. And during the evening news, he will frequently drop off into a light sleep. I have asked about this and have simply been told the brain needs the rest. It does make my life easier as a caregiver, since I am "on duty" only about 10 hours daily. I sometimes run out for nearby errands in the morning while he is still sleeping. I do leave a very simple note for him just in case he wakes up while I am gone.


63% helpful
terryy answered...

Thanks so much!! I take care of my mom since my dad died in August and her sleep patterns (way to much sleep) have been driving me nuts. And I am mostly all alone caring for her, so don't have a support group to know what to do. I feel like a warden when I am waking her up or making her eat or whatever. This is probably a drug problem, and we are trying different things, but its nice to see that i'm not the only one out there. Thanks.


56% helpful
olderbutnotwiser answered...

No ONE answer is right or wrong. I attended an ALZ seminar and was comforted to learn that the daily struggle with just trying to remember the correct word or name is not only frustrating (for all concerned) but can make one tired or sleepy. I remember telling my two year old, "Please stop asking so many questions...you're making me tired!" And I was always told by mom that NAPS ARE A GOOD THING!


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gorilla gaurd answered...

My wife, now finishing the mid stage of Alzheimer's disease, definitely sleeps more. If we turn in at, say 10:00 PM, she will sleep until 9:00 or 10:00 am next morning. Often, like today, she was still in bed at noon. I just let her go, even though this behavior screws up the rest of our day, such as they are. the extra sleeping on her part gives me a little more time to myself to "get stuff done". I used to feel selfish about this, but don't any more. I treasure and need time to myself.


pansqueen answered...

I am so happy I found this!! My father in law 4 weeks ago, totaled his car. So we had to put a stop to his driving. Then 3 weeks ago he had a stroke. 3 days in the hospital and 7 days in a nursing home for rehab. Now he's home, my husband has moved back into his fathers house but leaves for work at 4 am. That's when I come in and stay with him until my husband gets home. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's over a year ago. I believe he's headed into the final stage. This is no way to go out. Breaks my heart. But, we will love and take care of him as long as he needs it. No matter how difficult.


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Ronsbabe2012 answered...

So glad to see all these answers! I have had my Mom with me for 3 weeks now. She is 90 and in the last stages of Alzheimer's. Some days she helps fold towels, break beans, small stuff. Yesterday she ate breakfast, went to the store with me ( wouldn't get out of the car) came home went to sleep and slept till 5:30pm. Ate and was back asleep within 2 hours and slept until 9 am today. I agree it does help me as a caregiver, but I worry that she sleeps too much. I try to involve her in activities but she is always too tired. Seeing these other responses lets me know I am not alone!


gracieanne answered...

My husband was diagnosed four years ago. I feel like from reading all the information that he is in the middle stage. Over the past three or four months he is tired all the time. Almost as soon as he gets up, he says he is tired. Our family dr took him off of Namenda and Exelon patch to see if that would help. Other than those meds, he was on a high \blood pressure pill and various vitamins the neurologist had prescribed. Nothing has helped. He went to bed at 4 pm today. He is just exhausted all the time. He could have a better quality of life if he felt better during the day. The drs say this is just part of having dementia. I like to know real answers so I wish they would do an MRI and I could find out if the ALZ has affected the sleep part of his brain. Maybe I should just be grateful it has not affected other parts of his brain, i.e. anger, difficult personality, etc.


ppat55 answered...

My husband has taken to sleeping up to 11 - 12 hours a day. Goes to bed around 11 and many times is not up before noon. Can nap in his chair all day as well. Has been diagnosed with Vascular dementia about 5 years ago. This seems to be more pronounced when put back on Aricept. Not sure if that is the cause, but must admit I use the time for my mental health.


chzrllo answered...

There is no answer. Everyone is different. I have no real idea what stage my husband is in but I know it is somewhere towards the end. I am 86, he is 89. I am able to care for him, the house, the dog and cat and maybe an occasional game of golf. My son comes and sits for an hour or two when I golf. My husband denie s any problem, argues at the drop of a hat. I think he has great fear of losing "control." There is no answer - just do your best and live with it.


Bsummers answered...

I am so happy to find out I am not alone with the issues I am having with my 90 yo grandmother. She sleeps all day and hardly ever wakes up but she never wants to be a part of anything I am doing. She sits in her chair all day long watching CNN alone. I do try to sit with her for a little bit and I ask her if she needs anything every hour or so. I just feel I am not doing enough if she is only declining with her memory. Some days she is on top of everything others she is living in the past.


answerisinu answered...

Hi. This information was so helpful. My motherinlaw had a fall on thursday and today she is sleeping all day. Which is very unusual for her. She has schiofrenia and dimentia. It's very unusual for her to sleep this much. Tomorrow we're taking her to the doctor. We took her right in to the emergency room when she fell. All checked out. Just her sleeping is strange.