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
- Avoid caffeine drinks from mid-afternoon and 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.
New Monash University research project to improve sleep and wellbeing
Accessible treatments to reduce sleep problems among people living with dementia and care partners are currently limited. Researchers at Monash have developed a six-week sleep program aimed at improving sleep and mood in people living with dementia and primary care partners. The program was developed by sleep and dementia clinicians and researchers with community input.
They are looking for pairs of carers and people living with dementia who:
- Are living together
- Report issues with their sleep
- Have regular access to the internet and phone.
What does the study involve?
- Attending six sessions (up to 90 minutes) once a week via Zoom with a psychologist. During the sessions, you will receive practical strategies targeting sleep, mood, and fatigue.
- Sessions 1 and 4 will be personalised, one-on-one sessions with a psychologist.
- The other sessions will be offered in groups with other care partners and people living with dementia.
- Completing a baseline questionnaire, a sleep diary and wearing an Actiwatch watch (like a Fitbit) over two weeks before the sleep program begins.
- Wearing the Actiwatch again for two weeks in Week 5 and 6 of the sleep program and complete a sleep diary.
- Completing a follow up questionnaire at the end of the sleep program and an optional questionnaire at Week 10.
There are no costs associated with participating in the study. You will be reimbursed with a $100 gift card at the end of the project to acknowledge your time and commitment to the study.
For more information visit the Sleep Health Foundation.