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Alzheimer’s and Sleep: What You Need to Know

Did you know that Alzheimer’s disease can cause unique sleeping patterns? Some seniors with Alzheimer’s may sleep for long periods or wake up frequently at night. There are also other forms of dementia that can impact sleep.

A lack of sleep is unhealthy for anyone, but it can be especially harmful to seniors. It’s essential to ensure your loved one gets enough rest each night. It’s also crucial that the people providing home care to people with dementia don’t experience sleep deprivation.

Continue reading to learn more about:

  • Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia
  • The effects of Alzheimer’s and lack of sleep
  • How much sleep seniors need per night
  • How to get rest as a caregiver
  • Where to find Alzheimer’s care in Denver, CO
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What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases. As beta-amyloid plaques and tangles form in the brain, people affected will lose the ability to care for themselves. Everyday tasks become more difficult as memory and mobility are impacted by changing brain cells.

This progressive brain disorder causes gradual memory loss in addition to:

Other forms of dementia include vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal dementia. Each type of dementia has different characteristics, but changes in the brain are shared between all forms. Alzheimer’s and dementia are not normal parts of aging.

Alzheimer’s and Sleep Problems

Sleep problems can include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Frequent awakenings during the night
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness

Sleep disorders are common in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Up to 75 percent of people with Alzheimer’s have sleep problems.

People with Alzheimer’s often have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Other types of dementia like Lewy body can cause sleep disturbances like nightmares, sleep paralysis, and night terrors.

Seniors living with memory loss may wake up frequently during the night or wake up early in the morning. Daytime drowsiness and fatigue can contribute to the ability to complete daily activities.

There are a few things you can do to help improve your loved one’s sleep quality:

  1. Exercise and activities: Try to schedule regular exercise and activities during the day, as this can help promote better sleep at night.
  2. Darkened room: Keep the bedroom dark and cool, and avoid using loud or bright electronics near bedtime.
  3. Routine: Establish a regular bedtime routine and stick to it as much as possible. This may include relaxing activities like reading or listening to calming music.
  4. Medication: If needed, your loved one’s doctor may prescribe medications to help improve sleep quality.
  5. Talk therapy: Some people with Alzheimer’s find relief from sleep problems through talk therapy sessions with a therapist or counselor.

How much sleep do seniors need?

Alzheimer’s and lack of sleep are closely linked. Research finds that a lack of sleep during middle age can increase the risk of dementia by 30 percent.

A normal night of rest helps the brain reset and “clean” itself. Poor sleep is shown to increase beta-amyloid build-up by as much as five percent per night.

Most adults need around seven to eight hours of sleep a day, but this may vary depending on the person. Good sleep occurs in three stages:

  • Non-rapid eye movement
  • Rapid eye movement
  • Deep sleep

Hour one of sleep is when you fall asleep. This is called non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, and it’s light sleep. In NREM sleep, heart rate slows, muscles relax, and breathing becomes regular.

The next stage of sleep is when you enter rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This stage usually happens about 90 minutes after you fall asleep. During REM sleep, your eyes move quickly in different directions, and your brain activity increases. You also dream during REM sleep.

The final stage of sleep is when you enter deep sleep, about 30 minutes after you enter REM sleep. Deep sleep is when your body repairs itself and recharges for the next day.

Sleep is the best way for the body to repair itself. Getting enough rest is crucial to a healthy lifestyle. With adequate rest, the brain and body can remove toxins from itself that cause everything from weight gain to dementia.

How can Alzheimer’s caregivers get better rest?

If you’re having trouble getting good sleep while caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, it’s important to take steps to improve your health and well-being. Caregivers who do not put their needs first can quickly fall into burnout.

Here are a few tips for better caregiver rest:

  1. Get regular exercise: Exercise releases stress-relieving hormones that can help you get more restful sleep.
  2. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime: These substances can interfere with sleep quality.
  3. Establish a bedtime routine: Include relaxing activities like reading or yoga before bedtime.
  4. Use relaxation techniques: Techniques like deep breathing or visualization can help promote relaxation and better sleep.

Providing care for a loved one with memory loss is a noble cause, but it can sometimes become too much to handle. Long-term care can help alleviate the stress on your relationship with your loved one.

If you are considering memory care facilities to help your loved one, a signature program at The Courtyards at Mountain View can help.

Alzheimer’s Care: Denver Options

If you’re looking for Alzheimer’s care in Denver, The Courtyards at Mountain View is a great option. We offer various services and amenities to help our memory care residents sleep well and stay healthy.

Our memory care in Denver helps curb sleep issues and the complications of dementia with our signature program, Connections.

Connections promotes socialization and provides a sense of purpose and belonging. Our residents stay busy with individualized daily activities that encourage building new brain cell growth.

Remaining active and engaged helps slow memory loss and leads to a better sleep-wake cycle. We offer a variety of services to help our memory care residents sleep well, including:

  • A secure environment that promotes peace of mind
  • A personalized bedtime routine to promote better sleep
  • A comfortable sleeping environment
  • Assistance with medications that may impact sleep patterns

Our dedicated staff provides around-the-clock assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and grooming.


Find Relief in Denver, Colorado

Our memory care residents enjoy peaceful and restful nights thanks to our dedicated staff and cutting-edge programming. Family caregivers can return to spending quality time with their loved one. Contact us to learn more about Alzheimer’s or dementia care near you.

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