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How to help manage sleeping problems with Alzheimer's disease

March 14, 2018

If you care for someone or know someone recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, you may have noticed it can affect their sleeping habits. Most noticeably, it can be difficult to get them to bed and have them stay there. People diagnosed with Alzheimer's may sleep too little or not enough, and this can result in frequent wakings throughout the night.

 

To help manage this, we've put together a list of tips that can help a person with Alzheimer's get to sleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

 

(See here for tips on how to plan your home for their night-time safety too!)

 

Limit caffeine intake

 

Caffeine is a stimulant that works by blocking adenosine receptors from binding adenosine in your brain. Adenosine plays a crucial role in the sleep cycle in that when adenosine binds to its receptors in the brain, it signals those feelings of sleepiness and drowsiness.

 

When caffeine blocks them, it doesn't keep your body from needing sleep; it only keeps your body from alerting you to the fact that you are tired. Increased adenosine in your blood stream also causes your body to produce more adrenaline.

 

The effects of caffeine take up to 99% effectiveness within 45 minutes and can last up to 4-6 hours.

 

Have a bedtime routine

 

If you can, try to have the person you are caring for go to bed at the same time each night. This helps set the body's sleep cycle.

 

Another good idea is to set a calm, relaxed mood in the evening time. This can include low light levels, low noise levels, and even calming music if that is something they enjoy.

 

Plan activities carefully

 

Make sure to plan activities that required the most energy early in the day. Some examples of this may include bathing in the morning or planning the largest family meal in the middle of the day.

 

Exercise and rest

 

Help the person get exercise each day if you can. Ideally for someone with Alzheimer's, short 10 minutes exercises throughout the day may be best and do the activities with them if you are able. It is also helpful to break the exercises into a few easy to follow steps.

 

Taking a walk each day is also an easy way to help someone with Alzheimer's get in their daily exercise. Make sure they drink water or juice after each exercise to help them stay hydrated.

 

As for rest, make sure they get enough rest each night and limit the amount of time spent napping.

 

Keep in mind that being overtired at the end of the day can also increase restlessness.

 

 

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