When you have a loved one with dementia, understanding how their condition affects them is the key to helping them adjust. One common issue for people with dementia is their increased need for sleep. Why do dementia patients sleep so much, and how can you help them get the rest they need?
Why Do Dementia Patients Sleep So Much?
One of the most important things to understand about dementia is that it affects every senior differently. Appetites, moods, and other aspects of daily life can fluctuate wildly for a senior after a dementia diagnosis, and caring for them requires understanding the causes of those changes. One of the most common changes is related to the amount of sleep some dementia patients need. Why do dementia patients sleep so much?
How Dementia Affects the Need for Sleep
It is common for dementia patients to sleep frequently, both at night and during the day. Sometimes friends and loved ones are concerned about how much time someone with dementia may spend napping or sleeping in. However, it’s important to remember that a dementia patient getting extra rest during the day doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem. There are many reasons why getting plenty of sleep when you have dementia is essential to your well-being:
- Because of the areas of the brain dementia affects, people with dementia may find themselves more easily exhausted than they used to be. Doing things like talking with others or navigating daily routines takes more energy than it used to, and rest can help a dementia patient recover from the stress.
- Some medications that are common to dementia patients can result in excessive sleepiness. If someone with dementia has recently started medication or changed a dose, excessive sleeping might be a part of the adjustment period.
- Sometimes dementia can obscure other issues affecting sleep, like sleep apnea. Dementia can also affect a person’s natural sleeping patterns, making rest difficult. As a result, daytime naps can become more common as the condition progresses.
Helping Dementia Patients Get the Rest They Need
It’s important for someone with dementia to sleep as much as they need to in order to manage their condition. When helping a person with dementia get the rest they need to stay happy and healthy, there are a few things caretakers will want to keep in mind:
- Because sleep issues happen due to dementia, sometimes getting medical advice can be helpful. If your senior loved one is sleeping excessively during the day and still complaining about not getting enough rest, talk to their doctor about a sleep disorder screening.
- While getting extra sleep won’t hurt dementia patients, some health problems may occur if they spend too much time in bed. Talk to their doctor or another medical professional about how to keep them comfortable and healthy while they rest.
- As someone with dementia progresses through the stages of the condition, sleeping more might indicate that they will soon need more hands-on assistance to get through their day. Consider resources that can help them get the help they need, such as at-home health aides or memory care.
Why do dementia patients sleep so much? Their bodies and minds need additional rest to manage the condition, so it should not be a concern unless excessive sleep starts to cause other problems. If you aren’t sure if there’s a problem or not, consult a medical professional.
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