If you ever come across someone talk about dementia, then fast truck it backward to Alzheimer’s disease. This is because it is the most common cause of dementia in the larger United Kingdom.  For this case, research has shown that there are five hundred and twenty thousand people with Alzheimer’s in the United Kingdom alone.So how does Alzheimer’s affect sleep? How is it related to sleep? One may ask him or herself. We are going to unfold it and break it down for you how it all affects sleep.  So we will first have to understand what Alzheimer’s  disease is.

Alzheimer’s disease

This is a brain disorder that affects a person’s thoughts, memory, speech and the ability to carry out daily activities. The fact that Alzheimer’s affects the brain tissue, it is more likely to affect the sleep wake cycle, which may in later cause sleep problems, nighttime wandering and agitation.

  • Alzheimer’s disease is more likely to have its symptoms worsen as one ages. This means if one is 60 years old and after five years, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s would have progressed to worse. So the amount of sleep disruption in Alzheimer’s patients usually depends on the stage of their disease.

Early stages

Patients in this early stage of Alzheimer’s disease usually sleep more than usual or wake up disoriented.

Late stages

Patients in this stage of Alzheimer’s begin to sleep during the day and awaken frequently throughout the night.

Advanced stages

The patients with Alzheimer’s disease and it has advanced, they rarely sleep for long periods. They instead doze irregularly throughout the day and night.Many patients with Alzheimer’s disease experience “sundowning” which is an agitated behavior that is thought to occur primarily after the sun goes down. These could include behaviors like pacing, yelling out or getting violent.

  • Unfortunately, this behavior is repetitive. It is important to also note that sundowning doesn’t occur after sun down, it can take place all day long and have its peak between twelve noon to one in the afternoon.

Strategies of coping with Alzheimer’s disease sleep problems

Here are the most effective ways to cope with alzheimer’s sleep problems:

  • Create an ideal sleep environment
  • Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule. Get them out of bed at the same time each morning and put them to bed at the same time every evening. Discourage them from taking multiple naps during the day. Keep them as active as possible during the day.
  • Get into bright light soon after waking. This is to done to help them get their circadian rhythm in sync. This then helps them in improving their functioning.
  • Keep the lighting of a room dimmer as bedtime approaches.
  • Create a simple routine for accomplishing everyday tasks
  • Get some form of exercise every day. This could be for example yoga exercises that help meditate and help relax your mind.
  • Create a comfortable and safe environment for sleep. This means get rid of guns, metals and other harmful tools far away from the reach of the patient. Use the right mattress and blanket for the patient too.

Conclusion

Improving sleep at night and functioning during the day helps in postponing institutionalization. This is better for the patient and the family.

SOURCES AND REFERENCES

  1. Alzheimer’s disease (July 2014)

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/alzheimers-disease/

  1. Alzheimer’s disease and sleep problems. (February 2016)

https://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/guide/alzheimers-sleep-problems

  1. Strategies of better sleep for people with Alzheimer’s disease ( June 2015)

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/460615_6