Have you ever suffered from insomnia or bouts of not sleeping? Studies show that the older you get the less you sleep. Older adults notice changes in their sleep, such as waking up in the middle of the night and they are not able to fall back to sleep.
We’ve talked about nightlights and comfort from dolls before in our posts: Nightlights & Dementia and Doll Therapy in Dementia now we’re discussing how sleep can not only help those with dementia but may even prevent it.
Did you know that lack of sleep can significantly increase your risk for dementia? Lack of rest ‘prevents the brain clearing out toxins that trigger Alzheimer’s’, if you don’t get enough sleep at night these toxins build up and damage your brain. Lack of sleep also causes diabetes, heart disease and depression. Not getting enough sleep can also damage your memory.
A study from the University of California, Davis found that jet lag-style sleep problems, suffered by shift workers and frequent fliers, may cause Alzheimer’s disease.
Whereas people think that insomnia is something very common mainly among older adults, studies show that a lot of young adults also complain about insomnia and lack of sleep.
The reasons that young people may suffer from lack of sleep are typically attributed to depression and constant need to check and be on social media! Studies show
Conditions that can make sleep problems worse among people who don’t have Dementia:
- Restless legs syndrome – “also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a common condition of the nervous system that causes an overwhelming, irresistible urge to move the legs.”
- Sleep apnoea – “Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is defined as the cessation of airflow during sleep preventing air from entering the lungs caused by an obstruction. “
For older adults living with Alzheimer’s sleeping issues become even more serious and complicated because of the disease. Scientists do not completely understand the reason behind the sleep disturbances; it is due to an impact of Alzheimer’s on the brain. Most experts and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) strongly encourage the use of medicated sleeping aids. Studies also show that generally sleep medications do not really improve overall sleep quality and may be a bit dangerous for older adults.
Sleep changes within Alzheimer’s Include:
- Difficulties falling asleep – Waking up constantly during the night, staying awake for a long time and not being able to lie still. Changes in the mood.
- Daytime napping – People living with Dementia may feel very tired and sleepy during the day and then wide awake during the night.
- Sundowning – It’s late day confusion, turning the day into night and nit into day. “Reduced lighting and increased shadows causing people with Alzheimer’s to misinterpret what they see, and become confused and afraid.”
Here are possible treatments for sleep changes among people with Dementia:
- Make sure there is enough light so that there are no shadows in the room. Make sure that the room is not too bright. Take down mirrors, or cover them.
- Encourage regular daily exercise, but no later than four hours before bedtime. Activities during the day such as going with them to the mall shopping or for a long walk can also help one feel more tired and fall asleep during the night.
Chrissie the founder of The White Company, gives us a few sleep lessons on how to sleep better in her blog. She speaks about the design and interior of your bedroom, it‘s importance and how having a tidy room with a comfortable bed will help us all to sleep better.
Steps to a good night’s sleep by Chrissie:
- Start from the bottom up
- Find your comfort zone
- Always insist on quality
- Create a calm space
- Have a wind down routine
You can read more about Chrissie’s advised routine here.
All of this sleep chatter has certainly made us feel tired just thinking about it, we hope you all have a good night’s sleep tonight. Sweet dreams, from all at The Dementia Cafe. ZZZzzz