How do I get mom to bed at a reasonable time?

Cindyb asked...

How do I get mom to get to bed at a reasonable time rather than the 3 - 6 am that she is doing now? She doesn't have trouble sleeping, she gets side-tracked and doesn't realize the time.

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Hello Cindy!  My first thought is does your mother complain about this problem?  I can tell you it will be very hard to change this behavior if she doesn't think it is a problem.  Many older people like to watch TV, especially late at night.  The shows and movies on at these time tend to cater to this population.  Perhaps there is something on at that time that she enjoys.  Maybe she is a "nightowl" and has always gone to bed late.  It is hard to change that behavior if it has gone on for a long time.

You say that she "gets distracted".  Is the task of getting to bed overwhelming?  Does she have dementia?  Persons who have memory problems tend to find tasks like getting to bed daunting, and she may forget what she is doing along the way.  Dementia can also cause a sleep wake reversal, where people sleep more during the day and less at night. 

My advice is to see if she is bothered by it.  If she is not disturbing anyone with loud activities, and she is getting enough sleep, it may not be an issue.  However, if she is not taking care of herself by getting enough sleep, she may need to see her medical provider to see if something is going on.