Sleeplessness and night-time wandering

Sleeping problems and experiencing a disturbed sleep pattern is common for people with dementia. The person might wake up several times during the night or change the pattern for waking up or going to bed. It’s not unusual that persons with dementia lose the ability to distinguish between night and day, and night-time wandering may occur if the person doesn’t manage to fall back to sleep. You might be able to avoid their confusion by making sure the bedroom is dark at night. It can also help to remove daytime clothing from the room so that the person doesn’t think they have to get dressed. Sleep deprivation can affect the quality of life for the person with dementia, but also for you as the caregiver. Here are some suggestions to reduce the sleeplessness and night time wandering of the person with dementia.

Limit sleeping during the day.  

Daytime sleeping might make it difficult to fall asleep at night. Sometimes they might fall asleep during the day because of boredom or inactivity, but also because they didn’t sleep the previous night.

Maintain a daily routine.

A regular routine might help the person maintain their sleep pattern and get more restful sleep at night.

Aviod coffeine and other stimulants in the evening.

Avoid caffeine and other stimulants in the evening. Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine can affect the persons ability to sleep.

Use the bedroom for sleeping only.

This way the bedroom is associated with sleeping and not confused with other activities. Make sure the temperature and lighting in the room is appropriate for the person.

Create a safe environment.

If necessary, provide the stairs with a safety gate and lock the doors to the kitchen and the doors leading outside. Various sensors can help you to know when the person is out of bed or has left the room.

Be active during the day.

Activities during the day can make the person sleep better during the night.

Visit the doctor about medication.

Sometimes medication might help but beware of side effects.

Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI)
Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) is the worldwide federation of Alzheimer associations, which support people with dementia and their families
Welcome to the Alzheimer Europe website. We are a non-profit non-governmental organisation (NGO) aiming to provide a voice to people with dementia and their carers, make dementia a European priority, promote a rights-based approach to dementia, support dementia research and strengthen the European d…

Alzheimer’s Society
From day one of dementia, we’ll be right here with you. For support and advice. For pushing for change, and for life-changing treatments and care.
Alzheimer Society of Canada

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The DemiCare project has been funded by the Active and Assisted Living programme. AAL is a European programme funding innovation that keeps people connected, healthy, active and happy into their old age.

AAL supports the development of products and services that make a real difference to people’s lives - for those facing some of the challenges of ageing and for those who care for older people if they need help.

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