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When should I worry about sleep patterns? He sleeps sometimes 16 hours a day. Is this normal or caused by medication or boredom?

Answered by David Troxel

October 2, 2013

When should I worry about sleep patterns? He sleeps sometimes 16 hours a day. Is this normal or caused by medication or boredom?

Navigating the day can be stressful for someone with Alzheimer’s. Every decision or choice or action takes so much effort! This is one reason dementia can simply be exhausting for your family member.

Your family member’s sleep pattern may in fact be “normal” for him right now in his journey with dementia. That being said, I like to keep trying to support a more active life.

What does your family member get up for—a doctor’s appointment, or a visit to a favorite ice-cream shop? Some people with Alzheimer’s sleep because they have nothing to do. They are bored! If he will wake up for meaningful activities that’s a sign to push him to wake up for different activities he may enjoy.

Consider one other possibility. Depression could be a factor, because it can often go untreated in dementia. A round of anti-depressant drugs may be a good idea. Check with your physician.

Thoughts and stories from others

  1. December 22, 2014 at 11:37 pm
    Posted by Barbara Kirby

    I read the first post and identified with it. My husband is 85 and has Alzheimer's. Until about 8 mo. ago, he stayed active, mainly building things. Then he just stopped that and everything else. Now he sleeps for long periods every day or watches TV. I'm 71 and have CKD, stage3, so I just lack the energy to do much to change the situation. I do get him to doctor apps., a movie weekly and a meal or two out. He is taking Prozac, heart meds, diabetes2 meds and a research study drink. I feel pretty helpless and alone with no family or friends nearby.

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