More and more studies are showing that a lack of sleep can be a contributing factor to Alzheimer’s disease and people with Alzheimer’s disease often have trouble sleeping. Why a correlation with sleep you say?
Sleep is very important. Your system not only needs sleep to function, but it also needs sleep to ensure your memory is functioning properly. According to the Alzheimer’s association,
Alzheimer’s patients often have problems with sleeping or may experience changes in their sleep schedule. Scientists do not completely understand why these sleep disturbances occur. As with changes in memory and behavior, sleep changes somehow result from the impact of Alzheimer’s on the brain. When managing sleep changes, non-drug coping strategies should always be tried first.
Sleep patterns are found to regularly change among those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, but tend to be more severe in Alzheimer’s patients. There is evidence that sleep changes are more common in later stages of the disease, but some studies have also found them in early stages. As with most changes in memory and behavior, sleep changes somehow result from the impact on the brain.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, sleep changes can include:
Waking up up more often and stay awake longer during the night. Brain wave studies show decreases in both dreaming and non-dreaming sleep stages. Those who cannot sleep may wander, be unable to lie still, or yell or call out, disrupting the sleep of their caregivers.
Daytime napping and other shifts in the sleep-wake cycle. Individuals may feel very drowsy during the day and then be unable to sleep at night. They may become restless or agitated in the late afternoon or early evening, an experience often called “sundowning.” Experts estimate that in late stages of Alzheimer’s, individuals spend about 40 percent of their time in bed at night awake and a significant part of their daytime sleeping. In extreme cases, people may have a complete reversal of the usual daytime wakefulness-nighttime sleep pattern.
Need more sleep? Or have additional questions about Alzheimer’s and sleep? Talk to your doctor.