The following tips are provided by the Alzheimer’s Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. ©2013 Alzheimer’s Association, reused with permission.
Scientists don’t completely understand why sleep disturbances occur with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Some studies indicate as many as 20 percent of persons with Alzheimer’s will experience increased confusion, anxiety and agitation beginning late in the day. Here are some possible contributing factors:
- End-of-day exhaustion (both mental and physical).
- An upset in the “internal body clock,” causing a biological mix-up between day and night.
- Reduced lighting and increased shadows causing people with Alzheimer’s to misinterpret what they see, and become confused and afraid.
- Reactions to nonverbal cues of frustration from caregivers who are exhausted from their day.
- Disorientation due to the inability to separate dreams from reality when sleeping.
- Less need for sleep, which is common among older adults.