Give yourself breaks during the day
People with dementia describe how mentally tiring it can be to do usual activities, like having lunch with friends or going to a concert, or to do mental activities such as reading or attending a webinar. They recommend having breaks between activities so you can recharge. They also suggest not scheduling too many activities on one day, or giving yourself rest days.
Get at least 8 hours of sleep a night
As people get older, they experience changes to their sleep patterns such as needing less sleep, going to bed earlier, waking earlier, taking longer to fall asleep, and experiencing poorer sleep. People with dementia sometimes experience problems with their sleep including not being able to get to sleep or stay asleep at night, and sometimes feel very sleepy during the day.
Strategies for sleeping better include:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same times each day.
- Prioritise sleep.
- Take shorter naps in the early afternoon.
- Follow a routine for going to bed, including 30 minutes to wind down.
- 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 bathroom.
Sleep disorders in people with dementia
People with dementia, particularly Lewy body dementia, are more likely to experience restless legs syndrome. People who have restless leg syndrome find that they really want to move their legs, especially at night, and this keeps them awake.
It’s also more common for people with dementia to have sleep apnoea. People who have sleep apnoea stop breathing for short periods while asleep. They often snore loudly or wake abruptly. Sleep apnoea can cause brain damage. Ask your partner if they have noticed that you snore loudly and have periods where you stop breathing.
If you are experiencing trouble with your sleep or have sleep apnoea, talk to your doctor. Your doctor might refer you to a sleep specialist who will do a thorough assessment and offer treatment.
- Give yourself breaks between activities.
- Give yourself rest days.
- 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.