Sleep problems are common in Alzheimer’s and other dementias. They also commonly drive family caregivers crazy, because when your spouse or parent with Alzheimer’s doesn’t sleep well, this often means that you don’t sleep well.
To make matters even worse, not getting enough sleep can worsen the thinking or behavior of someone with dementia. Of course, this is true for those of us who don’t have Alzheimer’s as well: we all become more prone to irritation and emotional instability when we’re tired. Studies have also shown that even younger healthy people perform worse on cognitive tests when they are sleep-deprived.
Hence getting enough sleep is important, for people diagnosed with dementia, and for their hard-working caregivers. Now, sleep problems do often take a little effort to evaluate and improve. But as I explain below, research has found that it is often possible to improve sleep problems in dementia.
The key is to know what common causes to look for, and then come prepared to provide useful information to the doctor. In this article, I’ll cover:
- Common causes of sleep problems in Alzheimer’s and other dementias,
- How sleep issues should be evaluated
- Proven approaches that help improve sleep in dementia
- What to know about commonly tried medications for this problem