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Published on: January 14, 2016
by Max Gottlieb for Huffington Post:
Considering the prevalence of Alzheimer’s, it is critical that proper attention be given towards the expected symptoms and setbacks. One of the most frequent inconveniences Alzheimer’s patients deal with is sleeplessness. It is common for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s to be restless during the night and feel lethargic during the day. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that poor sleep was tied to an increase of beta-amyloid, a toxic protein that forms plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. Sleep is important for any age group so it is a good idea to learn how to promote a deep and restorative sleep.
Make Time for Physical Activities:
In regards to Alzheimer’s, physical activity is beneficial for multiple reasons. Exercise helps combat depression, which can lead to sleeplessness; it also stimulates neuromuscular movement, something that is especially valuable. People who suffer from Alzheimer’s need mental and physical exercise, and it is encouraged to schedule all of these activities at the start of the day. As it gets closer to bedtime, caregivers should help the patient wind down by decreasing their level of activity. Too much activity at night can leave someone too energized to have a good night’s sleep.
Create a Medication Schedule:
Patients with Alzheimer’s have a very difficult time falling back asleep if they are woken up for any reason. If living in a facility, nurses or doctors should coordinate with each other in order to design a schedule that promotes sleep for the patient. If you’re administering medication to a loved one, be aware of the side effects. Certain medications could leave a stimulating effect, making it harder to sleep if that medication is taken at night. Some caregivers, unwittingly, provide sleeping pills to counteract the side effects of medications. This is not a good idea for multiple reasons. Hypnotics or sedatives usually exacerbate the patient’s confusion and can increase their risk of falling because people are known to sleep walk.
Stick to a Routine:
Routines are important for people with Alzheimer’s. It is crucial for them to associate certain activities with a specific time of day. From drinking warm milk to brushing their teeth, anything that can be done to signal it’s time for bed is extremely helpful. This includes limiting daytime naps. Although Alzheimer’s sufferers crave sleep during the day, it is imperative for the caregiver to know how to moderate their patient’s daytime naps. Instead of letting someone sleep on their bed during the day, why not get them a recliner? Sleeping on a bed produces a deeper sleep than napping on a couch, leading to a lack of tiredness at night. It is possible to make noontime naps a positive part of a routine by setting specific times when someone can nap and when they should wake up.
Create a Relaxing Environment:
A person with Alzheimer’s should have uninterrupted sleep. This can only be possible if there are no distractions. For instance, is there an air conditioner that is clunking? Is the location of the person’s room located near an area where there are activities during the night? Anything that causes noise should be removed when creating a relaxing environment.
Manage Artificial Light:
The design of an Alzheimer’s patient’s room should be free from any type of light during the night. In some memory care facilities, the color of the room is adjusted in order to reduce brain stimulation before bedtime. Before going to bed, there should be no television. Also, be sure to use dim red lights for night-lights because they are the least disruptive. Light’s effect continues into the morning hours as well. Waking up with adequate light allows the body to re-adjust its circadian clock, making it easier to get out of bed and stay awake for the rest of the daylight hours.
Through the efforts of healthcare providers, family members, and caregivers, it is possible for Alzheimer’s patients to experience a good night’s sleep. Though Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t have a cure, minimizing its negative effects is still meaningful. Helping someone get a sufficient amount of sleep is a major step towards improving the care for an elderly patient with Alzheimer’s.
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