Wednesday, May 5, 2010

When Sleep Does Not Come Easy

A common issue with dementia patients and their caregivers is sleep, specifically the lack of it. Insomnia is common in those with Alzheimer's Disease, and that places a burden on their caregivers.

During the recent "Survival Tools for Caregivers" Town Hall Forum in Kearny Mesa, Dr. Daniel Sewell of UCSD discussed some causes of sleep disturbances and possible solutions.

The most common causes of insomnia include:

--Lack of exercise
--Exposure to bright light in the evening
--Too much sleep during the day
--"Sleep fragmentation" - or dozing on and off day and night

"This is where enrollment in an adult day care center can be so helpful," Dr. Sewell said. That's because staff can be sure to keep a loved one engaged and exercising so that he or she is naturally fatigued at bedtime. Keep them away from caffeinated drinks and monitor medications and meals for signs of indigestion. Finally, do not turn on bright flourescent lights in the house in the evening; instead, keep lighting low to stimulate sleepiness.