Sleeping Well Despite Alzheimer’s – Family Caregiver Quick Tip

We are learning more each day about how important sleep is to our physical wellbeing.

When sleep deficit is a regular issue, it has been shown to increase risk for heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and mental health issues.

Seniors and caregivers need to get adequate amounts of restorative sleep each night.

As many know all too well, this isn’t always easy to do.

Many seniors with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease have trouble sleeping or nighttime wandering when they wake up in the middle of the night.

What to Do When Alzheimer’s Affects Sleep

We have some tips to help improve your senior loved one’s sleep and yours:

  1. Make the bedroom as dark as possible and keep it cool.
  2. Find a bedtime routine that works and stick to it with a consistent bed time.
  3. As it gets closer to your senior’s usual bedtime, start dimming the lights.
  4. If your senior wanders at night, be sure the home is clear of dangers such as matches, guns or other items such, as knives, that could pose a danger.
  5. Put an alarm in their room or at the front door to alert you to wandering or install a lock on the front door that is difficult for them to open such as slide lock near the top of the door to keep them safe inside.
  6. Keep hallways and living areas free of clutter and trip hazards to prevent falls if they do wake up in the dark.
  7. Keep your days full of activities and on a schedule so that they are tired at bedtime.
  8. Try aromatherapy and soothing white noise in the bedroom to aid sleep.
  9. Limit nap time so that they are ready for sleep at night.
  10. Limit fluids near bedtime to reduce need for toileting in the middle of the night.
  11. Check your senior’s medication list to be sure there isn’t a drug that is interfering with their sleep. This is a good time to discuss using melatonin for sleep with your senior’s doctor. Avoid over the counter or prescription sleep aides as they can contribute to falls in elders.
  12. Get respite for yourself to sleep at night with an overnight sitter or family member if your are awoken frequently so you can stay well for caregiving.

Additional Resources

We know that getting a good night’s sleep, while very important to our senior’s and our own well-being, is not always easy, especially when wakefulness has become a nighttime ritual.

We hope some of these articles will help you find interventions for better sleep.

We wish you all a restful sleep!