Helping Dementia Patients Sleep Better

how to help dementia patients sleep
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What is Dementia?

Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. As a progressive disease, dementia can get worse over time. It is estimated that around 5.8 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s, and those numbers are expected to grow. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly 80% of those with Alzheimer’s are aged 65 and older.

Sleep Issues for Dementia Patients

People with dementia may have difficulty sleeping. This can be due to a variety of factors, such as dementia-related confusion, medication side effects, or changes in the sleeping environment. It is important to create an environment that is conducive to a good night’s rest. It is also important to understand that sleep needs may change as the disease progresses.

Tips to Help Dementia Patients Sleep Better

The following tips can help dementia patients sleep better:

1. Establish a Bedtime Routine

Creating a consistent bedtime routine can help to both calm and relax the patient. This can include taking a bath, reading, listening to music, or a gentle massage. Activities that can help to promote a sense of calm and relaxation should be incorporated into the bedtime routine.

2. Ensure a Comfortable Sleeping Environment

The sleeping environment should be comfortable and free from distractions. The bedroom should be free of clutter and other distractions such as televisions or clocks. The temperature should also be comfortable, and windows should be closed to block out noise. If the patient has difficulty sleeping due to a bed partner snoring, earplugs may be used to help block out the noise.

3. Avoid Stimulants Late in the Day

Caffeine and other stimulants should be avoided late in the day. This includes not just coffee and tea, but also chocolate and soft drinks. Caffeine can stay in the body for up to 12 hours, so it is best to avoid it in the late afternoon and evening.

4. Exercise Regularly

Exercise can help to reduce stress and anxiety and promote better sleep. Studies have shown that regular exercise can help to improve sleep quality and reduce daytime fatigue. Exercise should be done earlier in the day to avoid a surge of energy late in the evening.

5. Avoid Naps During the Day

Napping during the day should be avoided as it can disrupt nighttime sleep. If a nap is needed, it should be kept short and taken before 3 pm. A 30-minute nap can help to reduce fatigue and improve alertness.

6. Avoid Large Meals Late in the Day

Large meals should be avoided late in the day as they can cause indigestion and disrupt sleep. Eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day can help to reduce hunger and promote better sleep.

7. Avoid Exposure to Bright Lights

Bright lights can trigger alertness, which can disrupt sleep. It is best to avoid bright lights in the evening and use dimmer lighting instead. Exposure to natural light during the day can help to promote better sleep at night.

8. Take Medications as Prescribed

Medications should be taken as prescribed by a healthcare provider. Some medications may cause drowsiness and can help to promote better sleep. However, it is important to check with a healthcare provider before taking any medications for sleep.


Dementia can cause sleep issues for patients. It is important to create an environment that is conducive to a good night’s rest. Establishing a consistent bedtime routine, ensuring a comfortable sleeping environment, avoiding stimulants late in the day, exercising regularly, avoiding naps during the day, avoiding large meals late in the day, avoiding exposure to bright lights, and taking medications as prescribed can all help to promote better sleep for dementia patients.

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