Do People with Dementia Sleep a Lot?

There is one question that comes up a lot when discussing dementia and that is do people with dementia sleep a lot?

It has been established that individuals with dementia tend to sleep too much especially those who are already in the later stages.

This happens at night and during the daytime as well.

Below we will tackle this topic focusing on the reasons that may cause persons with dementia to oversleep and what to do when it happens.

Reasons People with Dementia Sleep a Lot

reasons people with dementia sleep a lot
Seeing that most people will answer yes when you ask do people with dementia sleep a lot it is important to discuss some of the reasons behind people with the illness sleeping too much.

One of them is the fact that as the disease progresses, the damage that occurs to the brain becomes more widespread.

These changes that occur in the human brain normally interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm which is the daily cycle that determines an individual’s sleeping patterns.

Dementia often affects sleeping habits in several ways.

You may find that one person sleeps a lot during the day; thus, it becomes difficult to fall asleep at night.

Some people may go through what is known as sundowning.

This causes irritability, restlessness, or confusion as the daylight begins to fade away. This makes it difficult for the person with the illness to fall asleep or even remain in their beds.

Dementia Often Affects Sleeping Habits

dementia often affects sleeping habits
While trying to come up with a conclusive answer to the query do people with dementia sleep a lot, researchers from the University of California conducted a study trying to establish the link between neurodegenerative illnesses and excessive sleepiness.

They found that people who have dementia often experience significant brain cell loss in the parts of the organ that keeps people awake.

The experts published their findings in the Alzheimer’s & Dementia journal.

They also stated that the over-accumulation of tau proteins is also responsible for triggering these changes in the brain.

These tau proteins form tangles that interfere with communication between impact cell health and brain cells or neurons.

Medication can make dementia patients sleepy

medication can make dementia patients sleepy
Lacking quality sleep especially when a person is ill can also make an individual become weaker making it difficult to do anything; hence, the weak persons will spend most of their time sleeping.

Medication that people with dementia take may also contribute to spending too much time sleeping.

These may include sleeping pills as well as antihistamines, antipsychotics, and antidepressants.

Another reason that may cause individuals with dementia to sleep a lot is those who suffer from sleeping disorders.

An example is sleep apnoea which causes a person to stop breathing occasionally as they sleep.

It can be a result of muscles in the throat relaxing or issues with brain signals. This can lead the affected person to sleep for longer hours.

Restless leg syndrome which is common in persons with dementia can cause unpleasant tingling or crawling sensations that usually strike at night when a person is enjoying long periods of rest.

This can make a person have trouble sleeping and they may want to compensate for these interruptions the next day.

Coping Mechanisms for People with Dementia who Sleep a Lot

coping mechanisms for people with dementia who sleep a lot
Family members and caregivers can worry a lot when a loved one with dementia starts to sleep a lot.

There are a few practical steps you can take to make the situation a little better depending on the cause of the sleepiness.

For instance, if a person with dementia is sleeping a lot because of disease progression, there is not much you can do.

However, if it is the medication they are taking that is causing them to sleep too much, you can always visit a professional doctor who will review the medicines they are taking.

Consult a doctor

consulting a doctor
Consulting a doctor is important when asking yourself do people with dementia sleep a lot.

This is because the professional can also help rule out any other health conditions or infections that may be causing the individual with dementia to sleep too much.

If the person with dementia has other physical ailments that are making them sleep a lot, the doctor will come in and offer the most appropriate solutions that can help ease the sleep issues.

Other coping mechanisms you can adopt include keeping a regular sleep/wake cycle.

You can also try and keep the person with dementia busy or entertained during the day so that they do not feel the need to go to bed when it is not the time for sleeping.

If a person can still complete daily activities help to come up with simple routines that they can accomplish throughout the day so that they can always have something to look forward to.

It is crucial to expose persons with dementia to natural daylight because it helps to regulate the body clock.

When the person is sleeping too much and they are comfortable without any negative impact, it is best to let them be.

Closing Remarks

The most common answer to the question, “Do people with dementia sleep a lot?” is yes.

Persons with the illness tend to sleep too much not because they want to but because the condition they are in forces them to want to spend more time in bed.

Caregivers can try and mitigate the situation by trying various non-medical approaches that might help.

It is also important to visit a doctor to make sure it is not other infections or illnesses that are causing a person to oversleep.

The experts are in the best position to offer practical solutions that can help persons with dementia.

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