4 Sleep Tips for Sundowner’s Syndrome

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One of the symptoms of Sundowner’s Syndrome, a condition experienced by seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia, is difficulty getting to sleep. Senior care experts at Home Care Assistance in Placer County suggest that when seniors who experience sundowning symptoms are unable to sleep, other symptoms of the condition can get worse. To help your elderly loved one avoid making his or her other symptoms worse, try out these four tips for a good night’s sleep.  

1. Regulate Daytime Activity
Certain activities can interfere with the body’s circadian rhythm if performed at the wrong time of day. Exercise, large meals, and late afternoon naps may make your loved one restless before bedtime, so be sure to have your loved one’s dementia or Alzheimer’s caregiver in Placer County restrict these activities to the morning. Correspondingly, late night activities should be calm, quiet, and simple. As your loved one is more likely to be easily agitated after a long day, which can make sleep more difficult, it is important to ensure your loved one has a relaxing evening.

2. Signal Bedtime with Light
Bright light during the day is healthy for your loved one, and can help keep the other symptoms of Sundowner’s at bay. At night, however, light (especially lights with a blue tinge) can confuse the body’s internal clock. A nightlight in the hallway is a good safety feature, in case your loved one needs the bathroom during the night, but try to keep the bedroom itself dark. If your loved one experiences fear when he or she wakes during the night, keep a lamp by the bedside.

3. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
While you probably already know your loved one should avoid coffee and tea in the afternoon, you might not think to check for hidden caffeine in products like chocolate or sports drinks. Caffeine in the afternoon can make it difficult for your loved one to calm his or her mind before bed, making it hard to fall asleep. Likewise, alcohol in the evening can interrupt your loved one’s sleep. Though alcohol might make your loved one sleepy at first, it can interfere with the sleep cycle overnight, leaving your loved one fatigued in the morning.

4. Evaluate Sleep Quality
If your loved one is experiencing snoring or trouble breathing at night, talk with your doctor. These issues can disrupt sleep during the night, and lead to daytime napping, increased caffeine intake, and other behaviors that interrupt the sleep schedule. If your loved one is getting up at night to use the bathroom or experiencing incontinence, you may also consider limiting liquids right before bedtime or discussing further changes with your loved one’s doctor. 

As your loved one’s sleep can affect the other symptoms of Sundowner’s, it’s critical that he or she is getting a good night’s rest every day. If your loved one experiences Sundowner’s symptoms, Alzheimer’s or dementia care in Placer County may provide the assistance and emotional support he or she needs to be able to relax and sleep. If your family could use extra help with caring for your loved one, contact a Care Manager at Home Care Assistance by calling 916.226.3737 and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation to learn more.   

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