Sep 19, 2010

Alzheimer's Disease Not Sleeping at Night

Statistics indicate as many as 24 percent of Alzheimer's patients wake up caregivers at night.

By +Bob DeMarco 
+Alzheimer's Reading Room

Circle of Life

Recently I received several emails about sleeping problems. Specifically, about Alzheimer's patients staying up at night, or Alzheimer's patients waking up the caregiver at night.

Some doctors recommend antipsychotic medications for this problem. This is completely inappropriate and should be avoided.

Caregivers have mentioned that doctors recommended sleeping medications like Ambien.

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Statistics indicate as many as 24 percent of Alzheimer's patients wake up caregivers at night. That seems realistic to me based on the emails I receive.

This is worrisome because sleep deprivation can lead to depression. One thing for certain, if the Alzheimer's caregiver does not get a good night's sleep they are likely to be less effective, have less patience, less stamina, and are likely to become moody themselves.

The first thing that always comes to my mind when there is a problem is to make some changes. Is their too much light in the bedroom? Can noise from the outside get in? Can you change bedtime schedule to see if this helps?

Can you change the configuration of the bedroom (move the furniture around)?

I learned from the Alzheimer's Action Plan that some medications used to treat Alzheimer's and depression my occasionally cause insomnia, nocturnal delusions, or vivid dreams. Some doctors answer these problems by blaming the Alzheimer's and not the medication they are prescribing. Be wary of this.

It is always a good idea to ask the doctor why he is prescribing a particular medication? If he knows if it can conflict with Alzheimer's medication or has symptoms different than expected when mixed with Alzheimer's medications?

In the past caregivers have told me that Lunesta, Sonata and Ambien have worked for them.

I continue to believe the fact that I get my mother into bright light each and every day helps her overall mood, and as a result helps her sleep better at night. It often comes down to mood, pattern, and level of security (feeling secure in the environment).

I know we have several readers that are more familiar with natural sleep aides. Perhaps you can enter your insight in the comments section below.

Other Sources of Information

Mayo Clinic
Alzheimer's Association

Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 4,000 articles with more than 310,100 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room