Reasons People With Dementia Sleep A Lot
Seeing that most people will answer yes when you ask do people with dementia sleep a lot it is important to discuss some of the reasons behind people with the illness sleeping too much.
One of them is the fact that as the disease progresses, the damage that occurs to the brain becomes more widespread.
These changes that occur in the human brain normally interfere with a persons circadian rhythm which is the daily cycle that determines an individuals sleeping patterns.
Dementia often affects sleeping habits in several ways.
You may find that one person sleeps a lot during the day thus, it becomes difficult to fall asleep at night.
Some people may go through what is known as sundowning.
This causes irritability, restlessness, or confusion as the daylight begins to fade away. This makes it difficult for the person with the illness to fall asleep or even remain in their beds.
Sleep Aids For Dementia Patients
Sleep inducing medications can cause negative side effects in dementia patients. These include worsened cognition and an increased risk of falling. Therefore, recommended sleep aids for people living with dementia are non-drug based and aim to improve sleep routine and the sleeping environment. You can find a full list of dementia products on our dementia products page.
Give Your Brain Sleep
A study by Maiken Nedergaard found that sleep is when your brain cleans up. During sleep, your brain clears amyloid-beta protein, which contributes to the plaque that is often found in the brains of people with dementia. Without adequate amounts of sleep, your brain may start to suffer from toxic buildup.
Action Strategy: Make a date with sleep. Figure out when your best sleep hours are in a 24-hour period and commit to being in bed for those times. Get yourself ready for sleep an hour before you meet your pillow. Promote high-quality sleep by:
- Turning off electronics
- Having a relaxing shower or bath
- Practicing meditation or light reading
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What Sleep Disorders Are Common In People With Dementia
People with dementia are frequently affected by sleep disorders. The following sleep disorders are found most often in older adults, but they are seen at even higher rates in people with dementia.
- Restless legs syndrome : RLS is characterized by an overwhelming desire to move the legs, especially at night. RLS is common in people with a type of dementia called Lewy body dementia.
- Periodic limb movement disorder : PLMD causes uncontrollable movements of the arms and/or legs at night. Many patients with PLMD also have RLS.
- Obstructive sleep apnea : OSA is a condition marked by nighttime airway collapse leading to brief lapses in breathing. OSA is particularly common with Alzheimers disease, occurring in 40% of patients. Having OSA also increases ones risk of developing dementia.
- REM sleep behavior disorder: REM sleep behavior disorder causes individuals to act out their dreams, sometimes in dangerous ways. It is most often found in individuals with Lewy body dementia and is sometimes the first symptom that arises with this type of dementia.
- Depression: Although depression is a mood disorder, it is associated with insomnia and other sleep disturbances. Depression is common in people with dementia, and it is seen at increasing rates as dementia progresses to more severe stages.
What Can Help Someone With Dementia Sleep Better
Sleep hygiene is the primary treatment for sleep concerns in people with dementia. Sleep hygiene is a collection of practices and environmental considerations that promote good sleep quality. The following sleep hygiene tips may help a person with dementia improve their sleep patterns:
Some of these sleep hygiene practices may be difficult for someone with dementia. For example, it may not be possible to control the bedroom noise level in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Consider adding a white noise machine to mask outside noise. A person with dementia may also have a difficult time maintaining a regular bedtime due to napping or varied daily activities, but keeping wake time consistent can still help to stabilize the circadian rhythm. A physician or sleep specialist is in a good position to provide individualized sleep hygiene recommendations for a specific situation.
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Sleep Problems Caused By Mood Disorders Or Restless Leg Syndrome
People with restless leg syndrome have a higher chance of developing Parkinsons disease.
Research shows that the same brain regions involved in Parkinsons disease can manifest as restless leg syndrome. So, its the brain/body connection thats showing up early as a sleep disorder that may eventually mature into Parkinsons disease.
Not everybody that experiences restless leg syndrome will end up with Parkinsons. Its not a one-way street.
And theres not a clear link through sleep between mood disorders and degenerative diseases like Alzheimers. The relationship is much stronger between restless leg syndrome and Parkinsons.
Does Sleep Deprivation Increase The Risk For Alzheimers
We know that sleep is important to keep our brains healthy, even in the non-Alzheimers brain.
During wake periods some of the brain chemicals naturally build up in your brain. Some of them are directly tied to Alzheimers disease risk. Amyloids, for example, are also indicators or biomarkers of Alzheimers disease.
Recent research suggests that during sleep your brain uses the cerebral spinal fluid to wash away some of these toxins. Thus rejuvenating itself.
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Limit Your Brains Exposure To Alcohol
The American Addiction Centers reports that drinking alcohol can increase dementia risk. A study found that people who drink 5 or more bottles of beer in one sitting were 3 times more likely to have dementia by age 65.
Action Strategy: Binge drinking is hard on your brain. Drinking large amounts of alcohol can stop your neurons from re-growing. If you choose to drink, limit yourself to one glass of wine or other favorite drink. If you are concerned about your own drinking or a loved ones, seek professional help.
Sleep Six To Eight Hours Each Night
In the first study, researchers at Harvard Medical School studied more than 2,800 individuals ages 65 and older participating in the National Health and Aging Trends Study to examine the relationship between their self-report of sleep characteristics in 2013 or 2014, and their development of dementia and/or death five years later. Researchers found that individuals who slept fewer than five hours per night were twice as likely to develop dementia, and twice as likely to die, compared to those who slept six to eight hours per night. This study controlled for demographic characteristics including age, marital status, race, education, health conditions, and body weight.
In the second study, researchers in Europe examined data from almost 8,000 participants from a different study and found that consistently sleeping six hours or less at age 50, 60, and 70 was associated with a 30% increase in dementia risk compared to a normal sleep duration of seven hours. The mean age of dementia diagnosis was 77 years. This study controlled for sociodemographic, behavioral, cardiometabolic, and mental health factors, although most participants were white, better educated, and healthier than the general population. In addition, approximately half of the participants had their sleep duration measured objectively using a wearable accelerometer a device that tracked their sleep using body movements which confirmed the questionnaire data.
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Give Your Brain A Strong Heart
Your heart and brain are strongly connected. A healthy heart gives you a better chance for a healthy brain. 80% of people with Alzheimers disease also have heart disease. It is possible that the decline in the brain is not noticed unless it is paired with poor heart health. Evidence suggests that controlling high blood pressure could be key to better brain health.
Action Strategy: Have your blood pressure checked by a health professional regularly. If you have high blood pressure, discuss steps to improve your heart health. For example, take 5 deep breaths every hour to reduce stress. Make sure to exercise regularly and eat a heart-healthy diet.
How Can I Get More Deep Sleep
How can you prioritize deep, restful sleep, without necessarily adhering to the 8-hour myth as a guideline? You must be mentally prepared to rest, of course!
The first step to getting deeper sleep is knowing your chronotype and respecting the stages of sleep. This starts with honoring your inherent sleep schedule, which will give you a chance to get more deep sleep right off the bat. The second step is cooling down, literally. Thats because your body also needs a physical change to signal that its the appropriate and safe time for sleep. This change is a drop in temperature.
According to Matt Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and founder of the Center for Human Sleep Science, Your body needs to drop its core temperature by about three degrees Fahrenheit to initiate sleep and then to stay asleep, and it’s the reason you will always find it easier to fall asleep in a room that’s too cold than too hot.
Of course, the cooling weighted blanket,Cube, or OOLER sleep systems can help create that drop in your body temperature you need to enter or enhance your deep sleep stage. For example, if you go to bed around 10 pm, youd want to set your cooling mattress pad system for peak coolness to be around 2 am if you go to bed closer to midnight, then it should be around 4 am. Again, all of this is dependent on you respecting your chronotype.
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Keep Your Mind Active
An active mind may help lower the risk of dementia, so keep challenging yourself. Some examples would be:
- study something new, like a new language
- do puzzles and play games
- read challenging books
- learn to read music, take up an instrument, or start writing
- stay socially engaged: keep in touch with others or join group activities
Control Your Blood Pressure
Hypertension or high blood pressure is strongly associated with an increased risk of dementia. High blood pressure can damage tiny blood vessels in the parts of the brain responsible for cognition and memory. The latest American Heart Association guidelines class blood pressure readings of 130/80 mm Hg and above as the start of high blood pressure.
Check your blood pressure at home. A study in the Netherlands found that a large variation in blood pressure readings over a period of years was associated with an increased risk of dementia. Inexpensive monitors that wrap around your upper arm can help you keep track of your blood pressure throughout the day and pick up on any variations. Some devices even send the results to your phone so you can easily track your readings or share them with your doctor.
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What Is Sleep Pressure
Sleep pressure is the increasing need to sleep after being awake for a long time. The longer a person has been awake for, the more likely that they will feel sleepy, and the more deeply they are likely to sleep. As a person sleeps, the pressure to sleep gradually wears off and they become more likely to wake up.
Some stimulants, such as caffeine, work by blocking the chemicals that make a person feel sleepy.
Sleep: Just One Healthy Habit That Benefits The Brain
Sleep is one potential risk factor associated with dementia, but its not the only one, said Claire Sexton, director of scientific programs and outreach at the Alzheimers Association. Her suggestion: Dont focus on just one factor. Instead, try to create a healthy lifestyle that might actually, truly help prevent dementia. A nutritious diet, physical activity and social engagement have also been linked to better brain health.
The Alzheimers Association is putting sleep front and center in its own research right now. The group has just launched U.S. POINTER-zzz, a $5.3 million study to examine whether lifestyle changes that might reduce Alzheimers risk also improve sleep. U.S. POINTER-zzz is a substudy of U.S. POINTER, a two-year clinical trial testing whether a combination of exercise, diet, mental stimulation and social support can reduce the risk of dementia in people who may be at increased risk for cognitive decline.
U.S. Pointer-zzz is recruiting subjects for the study. You may qualify if you are 60 to 79 years old, not a regular exerciser and have a risk factor for memory loss . You can learn more about U.S. Pointer here.
Genetically Modified Rat Is Promising Model For Alzheimer’s
In 2013, a landmark study of mice found that their brains switched on a sort of dishwasher during sleep.
“So things like amyloid beta, which are implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, seem to actually be removed more rapidly from the brain when an animal is asleep versus when they’re awake,” says Laura Lewis, an assistant professor of biomedical research at Boston University.
In 2019, Lewis led a team that showed how this dishwasher works in people.
“We realized that there’s these waves of fluid flowing into the brain during sleep,” she says. “And it was happening at a much larger and slower scale than anything we’d seen during wakefulness.”
What’s more, each wave of fluid was preceded by a large, slow electrical wave.
So now scientists are looking for ways to induce the slow waves that signal deep sleep. Lewis says it’s easy in rodents.
“There’s a specific deep brain structure that if you stimulate it, you can cause these sleep-like slow waves in the brain,” she says.
In people, there’s some evidence that rhythmic sounds can increase slow waves.
It’s also possible to boost slow waves by treating certain sleep disorders, says Dr. Yo-El Ju, an associate professor of neurology at Washington University in St. Louis.
So Ju’s team looked to see what happened after patients had been treated successfully for apnea. The scientists found that treatment resulted in more deep sleep and more beta-amyloid cleared from the brain.
Pillar #: Healthy Diet
In Alzheimers disease, inflammation and insulin resistance injure neurons and inhibit communication between brain cells. Alzheimers is sometimes described as diabetes of the brain, and a growing body of research suggests a strong link between metabolic disorders and the signal processing systems. By adjusting your eating habits, however, you can help reduce inflammation and protect your brain.
Manage your weight. Extra pounds are a risk factor for Alzheimers disease and other types of dementia. A major study found that people who were overweight in midlife were twice as likely to develop Alzheimers down the line, and those who were obese had three times the risk. Losing weight can go a long way to protecting your brain.
Cut down on sugar.Sugary foods and refined carbs such as white flour, white rice, and pasta can lead to dramatic spikes in blood sugar which inflame your brain. Watch out for hidden sugar in all kinds of packaged foods from cereals and bread to pasta sauce and low or no-fat products.
Enjoy a Mediterranean diet. Several epidemiological studies show that eating a Mediterranean diet dramatically reduces the risk of decline from cognitive impairment and Alzheimers disease. That means plenty of vegetables, beans, whole grains, fish and olive oiland limited processed food.
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Sleeping Gives The Brain A Chance To Clean Up
Lack of sleep could influence dementia risk in several ways. One of the most-studied mechanisms involves the brains nightly cleaning cycle, Lucey said.
When were asleep, theres an increased flow of fluid through the brain, and this is hypothesized to clear out waste products and lower their concentration, he explained.
Among the waste products lowered by sleep are the proteins beta amyloid and tau. At night, both of these proteins are released less and cleared more. In people who develop Alzheimers, both proteins build up to dangerous levels. Beta amyloid forms sticky clumps that interfere with signaling between neurons, and tau forms tangled knots that kill the neuron itself. When these proteins cant be normally removed, they may be more likely to eventually begin sticking together into pathological forms, Lucey said.
Other proteins implicated in different kinds of dementia also follow this circadian waste removal rhythm, he added. Weve also looked at alpha synuclein, a protein that is important in both Parkinsons disease and Lewy body dementia, and whose concentration increases with sleep deprivation.
Sleeps effects on cognitive health may range far beyond protein clearance. Inadequate sleep is also associated with atherosclerosis, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and depression all of which are important risk factors for Alzheimers disease and other dementias.
Lack Of Sleep May Lead To Dementia: New Research Finds It Makes Brain Vulnerable
It turns out that a sleepless night may cost you more than a morning of grogginessit could be giving the proteins believed to cause dementia easier access to your brain.
Scientists at UC Berkeleys Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab have discovered evidence that missing out on deep non-REM sleep may leave the brain more vulnerable to the memory loss associated with Alzheimers disease.
Alzheimers disease, one of the most pervasive and debilitating forms of dementia, has been diagnosed in more than 40 million adults. As the massive Baby Boomer generation continues to gray over the next decade, this number will likely spike.
The study, published in Nature Neuroscience, found that beta-amyloida protein that has long been suspected of being a catalyst in Alzheimersaggregates in higher concentrations in the brains of people who suffer from consistently poor sleep. As deposits of beta-amyloid grow, the protein further hampers ones ability to sleep, which feeds into a miserable cycle that may lead to dementia.
What was unknown was whether or not thats just a side relationship that has nothing to do with the clinical symptoms of dementia, or if sleep disruption is part of why these toxic chemicals in the brain are causing memory loss, Mander explains.
This is not to say that amyloid and other pathologies cant impact memory independent of sleep, Mander says. But it does suggest that part of the way it impacts memory is through sleep-dependent memory.
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