Tips for Managing Sleep Problems with Alzheimer’s
When your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, one of the common symptoms they may experience is trouble sleeping. Getting a good night’s sleep is very important for people of all ages, and it’s even more essential for older adults because it directly impacts their mental, emotional, and physical health. Proper sleep also contributes to a strong immune system and helps the body fight off cold and flu germs.
If you’ve noticed your loved one with Alzheimer’s is struggling to sleep properly, we’ve put together our top tips for managing sleep problems. As their caregiver, you undoubtedly want your loved one to be as healthy and as comfortable as possible, and we hope these tips are helpful in their journey to better sleep.
Establish a nighttime routine.
Most of us have daily routines that help us stay on track and get things done. When one element of our routine is thrown out of whack, it can disturb the whole chain of events. Sleep, for example, is a critical component of your routine, and when you don’t get a good night’s sleep you can really feel the effects the next day.
If you’re struggling to get your loved one to go to sleep at a reasonable time, try establishing a specific nighttime routine. This may include things like dimming the lights, playing soft, relaxing music, and turning off any sleep disturbances like cell phones and loud televisions. We also recommend limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption during the day, because as we get older we often grow more sensitive to the effects of caffeine and alcohol.
Establish a routine with your loved one, take notes about how they are adjusting, and make modifications along the way if needed. Hopefully after a week or so of adjustments, they’ll adapt to their new routine and will get better quality sleep through the night.
Limit daytime sleep.
Taking naps throughout the day can disturb your loved one’s sleep-wake cycle, making it more difficult for them to fall asleep at night. Keeping your loved one busy and engaged is a critical part of limiting daytime sleeping. If they are just sitting around the house most of the day feeling bored, it’ll be easier for them to drift off to sleep. If you have the bandwidth, keep mom or dad busy during the day with activities like gardening, walking, playing games or even exercise classes.
Unfortunately, many of us aren’t able to provide around-the-clock care and stimulation for our loved ones with Alzheimer’s. If your loved one needs more comprehensive care, stimulation and supervision throughout the day, you may want to consider moving them to a specialized memory care community nearby.
Consider using melatonin.
Melatonin is a safe, natural sleep aid that has proven beneficial to people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Many people are wary of strong prescription sleep aids, and melatonin can be a gentle, non-addictive alternative. For those who may not know, melatonin is the name of the hormone your brain releases at night, and it has an impact on your sleep-wake cycle. People often take melatonin to help them fall asleep at night or to fight jet lag.
Always speak with your loved one’s doctor before giving them any type of sleep aid. Their doctor may be able to give you tips on regulating your loved one’s sleep cycle. They may also recommend taking tours of some local memory care facilities to see if they’d be a good fit for your loved one’s unique situation.
If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and you’d like more information on managing their sleep problems, please contact one of our Tapestries memory care neighborhoods today. To learn more about our advanced memory care therapies and cognitive exercises for seniors, please visit our website at: https://umcommunities.org