Changes to sleep patterns are quite varied and include:
- needing less sleep,
- going to bed earlier and waking earlier,
- taking longer to fall asleep, and
- experiencing poorer sleep quality.
People with dementia additionally experience changes and sometimes problems with their sleep including feeling very sleepy during the day, and not being able to get to sleep or stay asleep, at night.
Strategies for better sleep
- Go to bed and wake up at the same times each day. Routine is a powerful way to help you get the rest you need.
- Prioritise your sleep over other tasks that you feel need doing.
- If you need a sleep during the day, take only a short nap (30 minutes, definitely no more than 45 minutes) in the early afternoon.
- Follow a routine for going to bed, including 30 minutes to wind down. Some people find practising relaxation exercises or listening to calming music helps them settle.
- Have a comfortable mattress and pillow(s).
- Consider thermo-regulated bedding that keeps you at the right temperature.
- Don’t drink right before you go to bed, to reduce the need to go to the toilet at night.
- Avoid caffeine drinks from mid-afternoon. Consider trying non-caffeinated teas or decaffeinated coffee.
- Avoid use of computers or other sources of blue light before going to bed.
- Exercise during the day.
- Getting outside in the morning sun can help improve sleep at night.
Try to get 8 hours sleep a night, by cutting down on daytime naps and using a sleep routine. Talk to your doctor if you have trouble sleeping.