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How to Help Dementia Patients Form a Bedtime Routine
Dementia and sleep disorders often go hand in hand. People who live with dementia often experience poor sleep as they progressively lose cognitive function.
It's common for dementia patients to experience longer sleep latency, increased sleep fragmentation and a decrease in sleep efficiency and total sleep
time. Some experience confusion and wander at night, making it difficult to get good rest.
How Sleep Routines Help Dementia Patients
At any age, bedtime routines support healthy sleep. When we maintain a regular bedtime routine, going through that routine tells your body it's time to sleep. This sleep schedule happens subconsciously, so you don't have to think about it or even recognize that it's happening to work.
The subtle cues of going through a bedtime routine can help dementia patients orient themselves to the time of day. It offers calming reassurance that can make it easier to relax and fall asleep.
Developing a Bedtime Routine for Dementia Patients
Keeping a regular bedtime routine is essential to improving sleep in dementia patients. Consider these tips for supporting dementia patients with a bedtime routine.
Start forming nighttime habits: What you do in your bedtime routine isn't as important as simply doing it, each night without fail. The simple practice of going through the same steps every night before bed will help induce sleep and make it easier to get settled down at night.
Set a regular bedtime: Going through your bedtime routine at the same time each night offers reinforcement and reassurance that it's bedtime and time to wind down for the night. Try to help your patient go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. A regular bedtime practiced consistently can offer a sleep cue that helps dementia patients feel sleepy and ready to go to bed at the appropriate time.
Avoid disruptive activities: Abstain from stimulating activities before bedtime as part of your routine. Turn off bright lights, and turn off the TV or other sources of noise. Offer a light snack, but be careful to avoid heavy meals or food that contains excessive sugar, fat, or even caffeine, as these can interfere with sleep.
But, be active during the day: Although stimulation at night isn't a good idea for dementia patients in need of sleep, activities during the day are an excellent choice. One option is to start your bedtime routine in the early afternoon, practicing light exercise such as walking or stretching.
Choose an enjoyable evening activity: Decide on a calming evening activity that can be done to wind down before bed. Good ways to wind down include crocheting or reading books aloud. Avoid watching TV, as the bright screen can interfere with maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm.
Practice massage therapy: Release tension built up throughout the day with a gentle massage. It can be practiced as the patient is lying down in bed, or in a chair before starting the rest of the bedtime routine. Massage can help dementia patients relax and improve circulation.This article is written by our Guest Blogger from: Tuck -Everything You Need for A Good Night's Sleep
Tuck Sleep is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. Tuck has been featured on NPR, Lifehacker, Radiolab and is referenced by many colleges/universities and sleep organizations across the web.
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