The cycle of day and night for a dementia sufferer can be a little out of kilter. They may feel restless and struggle to sleep at night, and then nod off during the day, a habit that can be difficult to break.
One way to tackle this is to make sure they get enough daylight during the day, according to BVDN, a German association of professional neurologists. Light has a strong influence on the body’s natural rhythms, the experts say.
It’s also important to stick to a regular timetable of meals, visits and activities during the day. Innocent midday naps, particularly ones that go on a little longer, can be counterproductive for people who are struggling to sleep at night.
On the other side of the cycle, keeping the bedroom dark and cool during the nights is a good start. Professional carers have also worked out that if dementia sufferers wake during the night, they should be spoken to softly until they fall asleep again.
If these strategies don’t work, light therapy or treatments with the hormone melatonin can also be considered.
In some cases, medication can be the cause of sleep disturbances. Beta-blockers, for example, can affect the day-night cycle. Other ailments like restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea, pain and itching can compound the issue too.
If such a condition becomes apparent, patients and their carers are advised to consult with their health providers for treatment options. – dpa