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Sleep Disorders in Dementia

by Karl Doghramji, MD

In people with dementia (see Dementia), such as Alzheimer disease, sleep patterns are often abnormal. As dementia progresses, the time spent in light sleep increases, so people are easily awakened. People with dementia may have disorders that contribute to sleep problems. Disorders such as arthritis, dehydration, and infections may cause pain or discomfort, interfering with sleep. Use of certain drugs or interactions between drugs may also interfere with sleep.

Treatment of the underlying disorder may help improve sleep. Naps during the day are not helpful because they may make sleeping at night more difficult. Walking outside in the sunshine, keeping the temperature in the bedroom comfortable, and not consuming beverages or foods that contain caffeine during the evening may help.