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Do Alzheimer's patients sleep a lot?

Someone with early-onset Alzheimer’s may start to have difficulties with memory, planning, and problem-solving. Besides, making poor financial decisions may be concerning, too. Forgetting to pay monthly bills is one of the first warning signs that might occur. Familiar day-to-day tasks require more and more concentration. A person with early-onset Alzheimer’s may show anxiety, confusion, depression, frustration, or suspicious behavior.

For family members, it might be worrying to see their beloved one sleeping almost all day.

Even at night, the individual sleeps.

Something that might seem like a problem.

However, as you will read in this article, the new behavior is quite normal.

Table of Content
Why does dementia affect sleep?
What problems can arise from Alzheimer-related sleepiness?
What should I do if a person with Alzheimer’s is sleeping a lot?
List of Resources
About the Author

Why does dementia affect sleep?

So far, science did not deliver an adequate answer. However, there are speculations. Some argue that the parts of the brain controlling whether or not to stay awake are damaged.

While others think it is due to damage to the internal biological clock. This would explain that individuals feel sleepy during the day. Even though, they rested enough.

However, I suspect that medication could also play a role.

Remember this

Strong painkillers make some individuals sleepy, which makes them react slower than usual.

Another example is blood thinners. They can cause nausea and low counts of cells in your blood. And a low blood cell count can cause fatigue, weakness, and dizziness.

And let’s not forget antidepressants. A common side effect to observe is sleepiness, too.

The elderly often need to take such medications, as you probably know.

Therefore, one can speculate as to what amount of sleepiness is due to medication.

However, dementia still plays a major role in it.

What problems can arise from Alzheimer-related sleepiness?

There are problems that arise due to the new sleep behavior. Such problems can include the following:

What problems can arise from Alzheimer-related sleepiness?
8 Examples
1. Waking up multiple times and being awake longer during night hours.
2. Sleeping at day times and being restless at night.
3. Incapable to differentiate between day and night.
4. Being disorientated during the night. Especially, when going to the toilet.
5. Disorientation in time: Thinking it is daytime, even though it is in the early hours (4-5 o’clock)

Basically, the result is being exhausted from simple tasks. Including everyday tasks like eating, talking, or making sense of their surrounding.

What should I do if a person with Alzheimer’s is sleeping a lot?

There are some non-drug interventions, which you can try to balance sleep and awake time.

Such interventions include:

Interventions against Alzheimer-related sleep.
8 Examples
1. Maintaining a schedule: Food intake should be at the same time every day. Make sure the patient is awake and sits straight. This reduces the risk of choking. Then, going to bed and getting up should be on regular times, too.
2. Daily exercise: Try to encourage your beloved one to to regular exercises.
3. Discouraging staying awake in bed.
4. Avoiding any sort of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.
5. Discouraging watching TV.
6. Provide a comfortable bedroom temperature: The patient should not complain about a cold room.

To support or take care of a person with severe Alzheimer’s is challenging.

This is why I created the “All you need to know Guide”.

Feel free to read it and share it with your beloved ones.

List of Resources

Patric Pförtner

B. Sc. Psychology

Hi, my name is Patric Pfoertner and I graduated 2020 from the NBU. Currently, I work and study in Germany. My specialisations are Cognitive Psychology paired with a good slack of Clinical Psychology. Just this year I started publishing my research in the CBB Journal. Feel free to read about it at ResearchGate. Otherwise, click the other button to read my full CV.

About Author ResearchGate

P.S.: I am available for psychological consultation, too.