Poor sleeping habits are a lesser known but common side effect of Alzheimer's. Whether you're trying to get a resident into bed ready for lights out or are struggling with patients getting in and out of bed every hour of the night, below we explain how to help Alzheimer's patients sleep with some small but effective ways.
How to help Alzheimer's patients sleep
Helping Alzheimer's patients get a good night's rest is a challenge for any caregiver, whether caring for a loved one at home or working in healthcare. Sleep disturbances can lead to other long-term health concerns, which can cause additional symptoms as the disease progresses. Some options you could consider for improving an Alzheimer's patient's sleep include:
Create an exercise routine
Exercise is beneficial for any sleep routine and is often recommended by medical professionals for anyone who has trouble sleeping through the night. Light, easy activities can be valuable in burning energy and creating a good routine of tiredness for sleep at the end of the day. For example, a walk around the gardens, an easy exercise class or even physiotherapy can provide forms of exercise.
Introduce activities earlier in the day
Planning activities earlier in the day, such as having family visit or completing the bath-time process, can help reduce the amount of excitement and spikes in energy towards bedtime. By reversing your routines to suit an earlier schedule, it's easier to help Alzheimer's patients to stay on an even keel once the end of the day rolls around.
Have designated quiet times
Transitioning from daytime to night-time can effectively indicate to patients that it is time to relax and settle down for the evening. A quiet, relaxing atmosphere is valuable in helping patients to relax and unwind after the day. Reducing general noise levels is a good starting point, while soft, soothing music and dimmed lights can help bring on sleep naturally.
Product: Heavy Duty Divan base
Invest in the right bed
The right bed can make a significant difference for Alzheimer's patients. Choosing a contract bed designed specifically for individuals with complex needs ensures a higher level of comfort, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Choosing a heavy-duty bed that's sturdy and practical helps improve sleep and provides a beneficial, homely environment for residents with Alzheimer's.
Introduce a consistent routine
Routine is key to helping Alzheimer's patients successfully get through each day. Bedtime is no exception to that rule, and having a step-by-step process at the same time every day is an excellent starting point to successfully achieving a whole night's rest. For example, a routine could include half an hour of exercise, time spent reading, getting into pyjamas and remaining in bed until a particular time in the morning. The more specific the routine, the better.
Use night lights and other sleep aids
Fear of the dark and disturbing others are two common side-effects of this health condition. Using night lights and other sleeping aids is one way that care homes and families can allow patients to help themselves, whether they require the comfort of a light or a clear signpost to reach the bathroom without the process of calling someone to help them.
Change to a sundowning schedule
Achieving a full night's rest can be an impossible task for Alzheimer's patients in the advanced stages of this illness. Instead, they may be fatigued during the day and wide awake at night, reversing their previous sleeping habits. This change is known as sundowning, and in these cases allowing patients to stick to their schedules can help them to like a more fulfilling remainder of their life.
Avoid caffeine in the afternoon
A nice cup of tea is the best way to start the day for many patients, but a cut-off at noon can help reduce caffeine intake to encourage tiredness at the end of the day. Removing tea and coffee from any meal after lunch helps achieve a better night's result. Similarly, alcohol shouldn't be consumed within three hours of bed to avoid low-quality sleep.
Encourage daytime fluids
Little and often is ideal for Alzheimer's patients to ensure they have the hydration they need throughout their day. Attempting to reduce the amount of water intake closer to bedtime can prevent patients from waking up to go to the bathroom, which may lead to a long battle to fall asleep again. Ensuring your patient drinks enough is also important to reduce confusion when awake at night, making returning to bed easier.
Product: Platinum Pocket Mattress
Comfort patients that can't sleep
Whether your Alzheimer's patient is frustrated they can't sleep, or they don't have the awareness to recognise they should be sleeping, being close by and providing comfort can help to prevent panic and emotions running high. Choosing sturdy care home beds that work well with motion sensor pads or alarm buttons is a practical way to know when someone is up and about in the middle of the night, allowing you to support them back to bed gently.
Why does Alzheimer's affect sleep?
People with Alzheimer's experience a degradation in their health as the disease progresses, damaging the brain and affecting sleeping habits. Individuals with this condition may sleep a lot or struggle to sleep. Research suggests that the cellular changes that Alzheimer's has an impact on circadian rhythm – the natural processes in our body that affect our sleep-wake cycle. This condition can also affect the production of melatonin, the sleep chemical, leading to sleepless nights.
Browse beds for Alzheimer's at Reinforced Beds
With a wide range of purpose-built commercial beds and contract mattresses that suit the needs of Alzheimer's patients, we can help you to give them the best night's rest possible. Browse our selection of beds online today, or get in touch with our team to find out more about how we can help. If you have more queries like 'how to help Alzheimer's patients sleep', don't hesitate to ask.