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Can Sleep Aids Cause Dementia

Be Cautious With Caffeine

Can poor sleep lead to Alzheimer’s or dementia

Are you in the habit of consuming a carbonated drink with dinner? If you suffer from insomnia, your sleeping problem could simply be due to caffeine consumption.

According to a study done by Ph.D. Christopher Drake, you should avoid caffeine for at least six hours prior to going to sleep. Bear in mind that other foods, like chocolate, also contain caffeine.

But avoiding consuming those products is not the only thing you can do. There are also tasty foods that, should you consume regularly, will certainly help you sleep better.

Sleep Medications And Alzheimers

If your loved oneâs doctor prescribes medicine to help them rest, theyâll probably start at the lowest dose possible and stop the drugs as soon as sleep patterns improve.

Medications include:

  • Sleeping pills such as zaleplon and zolpidem

Doctors also sometimes prescribe drugs called antipsychotics such as risperidone . They can be helpful, but they also might increase the risk of death in some people with dementia. Youâll want to talk carefully with your loved oneâs doctor about this medicine before they take it.

Just as Alzheimerâs sleep problems can change over the years, so do the ways you can handle it. Always talk to your doctor about which options are best.

Drug Reported To Help Alzheimers Patients Sleep Better

10 May 2019

Nearly half of people with Alzheimers cant sleep at night, waking up more often and staying awake longer than others their age. This causes nighttime wandering, and worsens cognition and depression. Despite the burden for both patient and caregiver, many physicians do not prescribe available hypnotics, sedatives, or antipsychotics for fear of causing falls, stroke, or hastening cognitive decline. Now, results of a Phase 3 trial testing Mercks insomnia drug suvorexant, sold as Belsomra, in patients with mild to moderate AD, suggest that this drug prolongs slumber, with more overall sleep time and shorter bouts of nighttime wakefulness than placebo. The drug is FDA-approved for insomnia and has been reported safe in the elderly population. Merck scientists presented this data at the American Academy of Neurologys 71st Annual Meeting, held May 410 in Philadelphia.

  • Many Alzheimers patients have serious problems sleeping.
  • Four weeks of suvorexant nudged up nighttime slumber by a half hour.
  • Results may encourage physicians to prescribe this orexin inhibitor.

Clinicians often say they are hesitant to try suvorexant in AD patients because of insufficient data to support the efficacy and safety in this key subpopulation, W.Joseph Herring, Merck, Kenilworth, New Jersey, who presented the results, told Alzforum. Weve shown that suvorexant was effective in improving sleep and generally well tolerated in patients, he said.

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Dementia And Sleep Problems: Causes

Researchers and doctors dont understand exactly why dementia affects sleep, but up to 70% of people with cognitive impairment have sleep disturbances, according to a;review of studies on disturbed sleep and dementia. Changes in the brain associated with dementia seem to affect the structure of sleep and the circadian rhythm, which helps regulate the physical, mental, and behavioral changes the body goes through in 24 hours.

Other factors that may contribute to poor sleep in dementia include:

  • Less exposure to sunlight, which affects the sleep cycle
  • Physical or mental exhaustion at the end of the day
  • Chronic pain
  • An environment that is inadequate for sleep, such as a noisy or bright room before bedtime
  • Medication side effects
  • Diet, such as excessive caffeine or alcohol

Sleep problems in people with dementia often have multiple causes. Talk to the doctor about your loved ones specific symptoms. The doctor may have questions about your parents sleep habits, medications, diet, and any other health conditions to diagnose whats disrupting their sleep.

Is There Anything I Can Take Safely If Im Having Trouble Getting Sleep

Essential Sleep Aid for Dementia Patients

If sleep is a problem, there are several things people can do. There are other natural products people can take to help them get some sleep, such as melatonin. As far as we know, melatonin in general is a perfectly good substitute for diphenhydramine. Its a natural supplement. Its the chemical in the brain that actually induces sleep in a natural way.

If youre having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about enrolling in a sleep study. We have locations in Chapel Hill or Wake County.

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Keep The Patient Active During The Day

Plan daily activities; go for a stroll outdoors, meet family members and friends, and if happy and able – visit a specialist group, such as a dementia cafe. Exposure to natural daylight is important to regulate the body clock, and getting out and about is the best way to enjoy good physical health. This will also help to tire and promote better sleep.;

No Wonder Everyone Is So Stressed Out And Can’t Sleep

Sleeplessness is terribly frustrating and unhealthy. And estimates I’ve heard are that something like 60% of people experience poor sleep at some time.

Count me in there.Natural sleep aidsand insomnia treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy take time to treat this sleeplessness, usually a minimum of several days or weeks. It takes time and hard work to learn how to sleep if you have insomnia.

That’s why natural sleeping aids often get cast aside so quickly. They don’t work fast enough for most people.

Of course, for some people, natural sleep remedies such as melatonin supplementsor herbal sleep aidsdon’t work either. We are all unique individuals.

Yet, at least when you learn to use non-drug treatments…perhaps the best natural sleep aids…or relaxation with meditation…or some of thehow to fall asleep tipson this Sleep Passport website…you won’t have to worry about the fear and pain of nasty side effects you may experience with otc sleep aids.


For references, please see part 1 of over the counter sleep aids .

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Get The Lighting Right

To aid a more restful nights sleep the bedroom should be as comfortable as possible. Using blackout curtains are a good idea during night-time to eliminate outside disturbances. Research suggests;that light therapy can reduce restlessness and confusion for people with dementia. Should you wish to consider light therapy, it has been proven that violet coloured light promotes drowsiness and a full-spectrum fluorescent light used for the first two hours of the day can be settling. Light therapy that follows a regular pattern can also help with disturbed body clocks.;

Safety – if night wandering is a problem, or frequent visits to the loo, you will need to consider some sort of low light to prevent your parent falling in the dark. You may want to invest in a motion sensor night light. A motion sensor light automatically turns on when motion is detected within three metres. It then turns off after 30 seconds of no activity. This means that people with dementia can use the bathroom in the night or get out of bed with less risk of falling. The light is gentle and warm in order to not interrupt sleep.

Shop Warm Motion Sensor Wall Lights on the Complete Care Shop from £9.43

Medications May Cause Dementia But It Could Be Untreated Sleep Apnea

Caregiver Training: Hallucinations | UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care

The news was enough to give you indigestion: Some of the over-the-counter and prescription medications most widely used to treat heartburn and acid reflux are linked to the development of dementia. The research suggesting a possible association is the latest in a string of implicated drugs over the past few years, including medications taken to treat anxiety, seizures, insomnia, and allergies. What is going on? Before emptying out the medicine cabinet, take a moment to consider the role of untreated obstructive sleep apnea.

Scientific research can be difficulty to contextualize, especially when it is splashing around in headlines or restricted to a sound bite. Nuance is lost. The complexity of the topic may not be fully conveyed. Researchers themselves may not fully understand the findings and it often takes the collective wisdom of the scientific community for proper interpretation to occur. Though a full discussion of these issues is unnecessary, it is important to understand the meaning of an “association” in studies.

This result made headlines for two reasons: these drugs are some of the most widely used of all medicines – and people really don’t want to get dementia. There are few things more fear-inducing than the prospect that something you are doing is increasing your risk of developing a condition that steadily robs you of your independence, your personality, and your memory. Why might such an association exist with a seemingly unrelated stomach medication?

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What The Studies Found

It’s important to note that neither of these studies was a randomized controlled clinical trial, so neither proved that either type of drug causes dementia.

The anticholinergic study. Researchers tracked nearly 3,500 men and women ages 65 or older who took part in Adult Changes in Thought , a long-term study conducted by the University of Washington and Group Health, a Seattle health care system. They used Group Health’s pharmacy records to determine all the drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, that each participant took in the 10 years before starting the study. Participants’ health was tracked for an average of seven years. During that time, 800 of them developed dementia. When the researchers examined medication use, they found that people who used anticholinergic drugs were more likely to have developed dementia than those who didn’t use them. Moreover, dementia risk increased along with the cumulative dose. Taking an anticholinergic for the equivalent of three years or more was associated with a 54% higher dementia risk than taking the same dose for three months or less.

The University of Washington study is the first to include nonprescription drugs. It is also the first to eliminate the possibility that people were taking the drugs to alleviate early symptoms of undiagnosed dementia. For people who took anticholinergic bladder medications, the increased risk was just as high as for those taking tricyclic antidepressants, which are also anticholinergics.

Drink Plenty Of Fluids Throughout The Day

It is very important that people with dementia stay hydrated. Drinking little and often is the best way to stay hydrated, without constantly needing the toilet. Dehydration can cause added confusion and illnesses such as urinary tract infections . It is best to encourage consumption of most daily fluids in the early and middle hours of the day to avoid getting up for the bathroom in the night. If the person you care for enjoys an evening cup of tea, try switching it for decaf.;

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Why The Drugs Affect Your Mind

Both anticholinergics and benzodiazepines affect the activity of neurotransmitterschemical messengers that work in the central nervous systembut the drugs work in slightly different ways.

Anticholinergic drugs block the action of acetylcholine. In the brain, acetylcholine is involved in learning and memory. In the rest of the body, it stimulates the autonomic nervesthose that regulate contractions of blood vessels, airways, and our cardiovascular and digestive systems. The strongest anticholinergic drugs include some antihistamines, tricyclic antidepressants, medications to control overactive bladder, and sleeping pills.

Benzodiazepines boost another neurotransmitter’s effectiveness. They make gamma-aminobutyric acid which slows the activity of neurons in the brain-more potent. For that reason, they are used to calm anxiety and help people sleep.

Sleep Aids: Medications Melatonin And Dementia


In some cases, the doctor may prescribe medications to help your loved one sleep. However, older adults with cognitive impairment are more likely to experience side effects from sleep-inducing drugs, so those medications arent usually recommended for long-term use.

Some studies show melatonin may improve sleep in people with mild to moderate dementia. It may also help reduce agitation and confusion late in the day. Check with your loved ones doctor before starting any over-the-counter supplements or sleep aids.

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Are There More Complex Sleeping Pill Side Effects

Some sleeping pills have potentially harmful side effects, including parasomnias. Parasomnias are movements, behaviors, and actions over which you have no control, like sleepwalking. During a parasomnia, you are asleep and unaware of what is happening.

Parasomnias with sleeping pills are complex sleep behaviors and may include sleep eating, making phone calls, or having sex while in a sleep state. Sleep driving, which is driving while not fully awake, is another serious sleeping pill side effect. Though rare, parasomnias are difficult to detect once the medication takes effect.

Product labels for sedative-hypnotic medicines include language about the potential risks of taking a sleeping pill. Because complex sleep behaviors are more likely to occur if you increase the dosage of a sleeping pill, take only what your doctor prescribes — no more.

Benadryl And Other Common Medications Are Linked To Dementia In Men And Women

Many people turn to over-the-counter medicines when they need relief from allergy and cold symptoms or have trouble falling asleep.; Thats why you might be concerned about a 2015 study showing that one of the most common of those drugsBenadrylcould lead to serious health problems, including dementia.

Benadryl has many uses.; Although often taken for allergy symptoms, the same dose of the same ingredient is used in most over-the-counter sleeping pills, and also used for motion sickness. Weve known since 2012 that people who regularly take Benadryl or other sleeping pills to fall and stay asleep are more likely to get cancer and tend to die earlier than people who dont take sleep medication. ;A 2015 study, however, found that taking Benadryl also seems to increase a persons chances of developing dementia.

Most people who take Benadryl dont even know it, since the pills they buy in their local drug stores have many different names .;Drugs containing diphenhydramine arent the only ones linked to an increased risk of dementia. The 2015 study, led by a researcher from University of Washington, found an increase in dementia linked to a type of drug known as anticholinergics. These drugs are known to help dry out a runny nose or tearing eyes and also to make you sleepy; they work by blocking acetylcholine, a chemical that sends messages to and from the brain and helps start muscle contractions.

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Get Into A Good Routine

If possible, try and make bedtime and wake-up time the same everyday. Try and establish a nightime and morning routine as this will help signal to them what time of day it is. Things that can encourage better sleeping habits include a bath, playing music, brushing teeth, a hot milky drink or even the scent of lavender on a pillow from a scented spray.

A scented pillow spray can help overcome restlessness or trouble drifting off. The smell of the lavender blend naturally encourages sleep. This is particularly helpful to those in the later stages of dementia when it is common for patients to respond to the sense of smell.

What Is The Follow

Less sleep increases your risk for dementia

If you have AIDS dementia complex, you should have regular and frequent visits with your health care provider. These visits allow repeat testing to monitor your condition, review of symptoms, and adjustments to treatment if needed. The visits also permit the health care provider to assess whether your care is appropriate. Persons with advanced dementia may require inpatient care in a nursing home or similar facility.

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Could I Use Sleeping Tablets For A Limited Time Just To Help The Person I Care For With Dementia Get Back Into A Routine Of Sleeping Throughout The Night

However tempting this may be, the use of sleeping pills for dementia patients can be just too dangerous as they are at risk of falling. The morning hangover effect that sleeping medication leaves a person with can exacerbate the dementia patient’s symptoms of confusion, anger and irritability. Try promoting better sleep strategies and sleep aids for dementia instead. If the person with dementia constantly wakes and gets up, and is at high risk of falling, then a doctor may decide that sleeping pills for a dementia patient can be used for short period of time. Always talk to a GP first as they are used to being asked how to get dementia patients to sleep at night.

Can Common Sleep Aids Cause Dementia

Taking certain OTC and prescription drugs regularly may put you at higher risk, studies shows.

More than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, according to a 2016 study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.

People with transient or short-term insomnia often reach for over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids that have a sedating effect and are generally safe.

But recent studies raise the likelihood that some popular sleep aids that contain an antihistamine may be associated with increased dementia risk. The studies are focused on a class of drugs called anticholinergic that block a chemical in the brain involved in memory and learning.

People commonly use sleep aids that contain the anticholinergic drug diphenhydramine . While safe to use, taking them for an extended time could significantly impact your risk of developing dementia.

Just because its an over-the-counter medication doesnt mean it is safe and free from interactions, said Raphael Balbino, MD, a family medicine physician and geriatrician with the Baptist AgeWell Center for Senior Health who specializes in dementia and managing multiple medications.

One study found that long-term use of anticholinergic sleep aids and allergy medication increased the risk of dementia.

Natural allergy remedies also include a charcoal/HEPA filter for your home and even the use of essential oils in a diffuser such as Eucalyptus oil.

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Do Sleep Medications Impact Women And Men Differently

The Cache County Study on Memory and Aging looked at whether taking sleep medications led to an increased Alzheimers risk and if men and women are impacted differently.

In an observational study of 3,656 adults over age 65, researchers found that men who used sleep medications had a 3.6 times increased risk of getting Alzheimers than those who didnt. In contrast, women who used sleep medications but did not suffer from sleep disturbances had a four times greater risk of getting Alzheimers, compared to women who had sleep disturbances and used sleep medications. These women had a 35.2% reduced risk of developing Alzheimers.

More research is needed to determine and understand the mechanisms underlying the differences between men and women, and the cognitive impact of using sleep medications, said Elizabeth Vernon, MS, Utah State University, who presented the data at AAIC 2019.


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