Tips for Coping with Dementia-Related Sleep Problems


Sleep problems are a common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, causing a person to be drowsy during the day, wake up at night or feel restless irritation known as sundowning. If you figure out what symptoms or side effects are causing sleep issues, you can take steps to eliminate them as much as possible.

Possible Causes & Contributing Factors of Sleep Problems

  • Exhaustion, either mental or physical
  • Disturbance in the person’s internal “body clock”
  • Changes in lighting at night, which create shadows and could cause a person with dementia to misinterpret their surroundings, becoming afraid or confused
  • Picking up on a caregiver’s stress or agitation as they become tired
  • Disorientation from the inability to separate dreams from reality
  • Side effects from medications
  • Other health conditions, such as depression, restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea.

7 Ways to Cope with Dementia-Related Sleep Problems

Before turning to sleeping pills, try the following techniques to help your loved one enjoy a restful night’s sleep:

  • Keep a consistent schedule. As much as possible, have your loved one wake up, go to bed and eat meals at the same times each day. This can help them maintain a consistent internal “clock” that tells their body when it’s time for sleep.
  • Stay active during the day. Schedule appointments and activities in the morning and afternoon so your loved one is less likely to rest all day. Limit napping and encourage daily exercise to help them sleep easier at night.
  • Seek exposure to sunlight. Take your loved one outside in the morning, either by going for a walk or gardening. Sunlight and other sources of light therapy can help your loved one associate daylight with being awake.
  • Avoid stimulants. Keep your loved one away from nicotine, alcohol, caffeine and large dinners. Serve their biggest meal at noon and keep dinner simple.
  • Be mindful of the lighting. If your loved one becomes upset due to dim light and shadows, keep their home well-lit at night, installing nightlights in the bedroom and hallways. Control the lighting according to your loved one’s symptoms.
  • Limit environmental triggers. In the evening hours, try to eliminate the factors that trigger your loved one’s sleep problems or sundowning behaviors.
  • Make surroundings peaceful. Make sure the temperature of your loved one’s bedroom isn’t too hot or too cold. Ensure they are comfortable and that they’ve gone to the bathroom before bed.

The Art of Living

At Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay, we’ve mastered the art of living. We’ve perfected the balance of personalized support and an uplifting lifestyle, helping our residents experience independence, joy, and meaning every day.

Offering supportive independent living, assisted living and memory care services for families in Venice, Florida, Tuscan Gardens of Venetia Bay was founded with one simple, yet profound goal – to create a community worthy of our parents. In all we do, we are guided by the principles of family, culture, and engagement, working to represent the remarkable way of life our families deserve.

The essence of our community is made up not only of mere aesthetics but an artfully designed lifestyle to bring out the best of what each day has to offer. From dedicated care that respects residents’ individuality and dignity to a lifestyle that nurtures their love of life, Tuscan Gardens was built to be more than just a residence, but a place to call home.

To learn more about our comfortable, elegant community, contact us today!