Getting a good night's sleep maybe a big problem both for the person with dementia and their carers. Here we present a range of information to better understand sleep and dementia. This may help you improve sleep patterns and hence quality of life.

Making some changes to your home can help a person living with dementia. Consider what tips may work for your household as each person experiences dementia differently.
These suggestions are especially important if your loved one is anxious, fearful, in pain or having hallucinations.

  • As much as

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People with dementia can wander at night for lots of different reasons. One reason may be that they have extra energy that wasn’t used up during the day. Having a daily routine that includes physical activity may reduce night wandering.

Make sure the activities are suitable for the person with

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Dementia affects everyone differently and varies in progression. Different brain functions affected may include:

  • change to memory e.g. forgets familiar places
  • language e.g. refers back to first language
  • communication e.g. unable to communicate specific needs
  • recognition e.g. difficulty

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You might not be aware that your loved one is in pain. Dealing with pain symptoms is essential for a good night's sleep. If you think the person you are caring for is experiencing pain:

  • Arrange a doctor’s appointment to identify and treat physical symptoms.
  • Ensure pain medication is taken

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Consider how living with a person with dementia has affected your sleep. 

What other forms of relaxation could you use?

Some conditions affect sleep quality in people with dementia including:

  • sleep apnea
  • arthritis
  • restless leg syndrome 
  • depression

For more information refer to the dementia and sleep factsheet.

When you find your loved one wandering at night:

  • Gently remind the person that it is night-time and it's time to go to sleep.
  • Check if they need to use the toilet, consider if they are hungry, frustrated or bored?
  • Think about what changes you could make in the environment to calm them

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The most common types of dementia are:

  • Alzheimers Disease
  • Vascular
  • Lewy Body
  • Frontotemporal