Sleep plays an important role in our physical and mental health. Insufficient or poor quality sleep is linked to an increase risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain and stroke.
Dementia and sleep disorders share a close relationship. Dementia patient tends to experience poor sleep pattern on a regular basis. They exhibit the symptoms of sleep apnea or temporay loss of breath during sleep.
How Does Dementia Affects Sleep?
Dementia can affect the body clock. People with dementia have a sleep pattern that is quite different from normal people. They have difficulty sleeping through the night and are often tired and sleepy during the day. This could be due to how they perceive the world.
There are many possible causes of these sleep changes. The way the brain controls sleep may have changed. They may be in pain which affects their sleep. The surrounding environment also plays a part in your sleep. Noise, heat, lights or mattress may be the contributing factors. Other sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea, heavy snoring or breathing can also affect your quality of sleep.
Not getting enough sleep will lead to low quality of life during the day. Greater difficulty with physical functioning, not focussing, mood changes, sleepy, getting tense and not interested in what they are doing.
How Can Caregiver Help?
Try to get them to have a fixed sleep and wake patterns. If possible, a light massage on their feet and some light music to let them sleep off. Maintain good sleep hygiene to improve sleep habits.
During the day, make sure they stay active. Have more outdoor activities to expose them to sunlight. Engage and communicate with them more often. Short naps may be helpful if they look tired.
During the night, the sleep room should be dark and quiet. Often people with dementia wake up and think it is morning if there is light. Experts believe that people with dementia get disturbed by noise easily.
Wandering at night is dangerous. A fall can have serious consequences especially so for elderly. An alarm monitor may he helpful to alert the caregiver if the senior tries to get out of his bed to leave the room.
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It helps if the caregiver knows about these concerns and understand that they are not unusual. Friends and caregiver support is equally important in caring dementia seniors.
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