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How to help people with dementia to sleep better
July 10, 2023

Sleep is vitally important to all of us and a good night’s sleep is essential for people with dementia. However, many people with dementia struggle to get a good night’s sleep for a variety of reasons.

8 tips to support a better night’s sleep for people with dementia

If your loved one is having trouble sleeping, the following tips may help.

1. Check for medical conditions that can affect sleep

Several medical conditions can affect sleep, particularly in older people. These medical conditions may mean that your loved one wakes up more often in the night. Conditions such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and prostate problems can all disturb sleep. If you are concerned that your loved one has a condition that is affecting their sleep, you should ask your GP for advice.

2. Review medication

Some dementia medications can affect sleep. If your loved one is having trouble sleeping, talk to their GP or specialist to see if medications can be adjusted. Sometimes changing the time of day when medications are taken can help.  Don’t be tempted to give your loved one sleeping pills as these can increase confusion.

3. Make sure the bed and room are comfortable

Setting up the right environment for sleep can help with sleep problems. You should make sure your loved one has a comfortable, bed, mattress and pillow. It’s a good idea to use cotton bedding as this is breathable. If your loved one gets hot or cold at night, try to layer bedding with a thinner duvet and a throw so that it is easy for them to adjust the bedding if they are too hot or cold.

The temperature of the bedroom has a big effect on sleep quality, too. It shouldn’t be too hot and stuffy or too cold. Having a window open a little bit for fresh air can help.

4. Provide good lighting

Blackout curtains can help ensure the room is dark enough for sleep. However, safety is an issue if your loved one regularly gets out of bed. A motion sensor night light can help to ensure they can safely visit the loo in the night. These lights turn on when motion is detected within 3 minutes and then switch off again after 30 seconds of no activity. They give off a warm light so as not to disturb sleep patterns.

5. Daytime routines

Your loved one’s day time routine can affect their sleep as much as their nighttime routine. Try to make sure your loved one is active for some part of the day to ensure they are tired when they go to bed. If your loved one needs a nap, try not to let them nap for too long or too late in the day as this can mean they aren’t tired at bedtime. It is a good idea for your loved one to take their naps in a chair as this can prevent them from falling into too deep a sleep asleep during the day.

Make sure your loved one drinks plenty of fluids, as dehydration can increase confusion as well as leading to urinary tract infections. Make sure they drink plenty in the morning and the early afternoon and decrease fluid intake late in the evening to help reduce night-time visits to the loo.

6. Avoid stimulants in the afternoon and evening

Caffeine and alcohol can affect sleep so should be avoided during the late afternoon and evening. Alcohol can make us feel sleepy and help us get off to sleep more easily but it has a negative impact on sleep quality and can cause us to wake more in the night. If your loved one enjoys a cuppa before bed, switch to a decaffeinated version.

Switching to softer, warmer lighting in the evening can help trigger sleep hormones and help us wind down for sleep. Avoid using computers or watching TV late in the evening as the blue light emitted from these devices can affect sleep.

7. Create a regular relaxing bedtime routine

A consistent routine is reassuring for people with dementia, so try to stick to a similar set of activities each evening. A warm bath or shower can be relaxing, as can listening to gentle music.

8. Comfort them if they wake at night

If your loved one wakes at night, then comfort them until they are settled again. Avoid activities that will wake them even more such as going downstairs for a cuppa or turning on bright lights. Aim to keep everything soft and low key.

How Mumby’s Live-in Care can help people with dementia

At Mumby’s, we specialise in caring for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. All Mumby’s Live-in Care carers are fully trained in general care as well as having specialist training on dementia and Alzheimer’s care. Staff are taught how to reassure and comfort clients with these conditions to make them feel safe and secure when everything else may seem unfamiliar. They will be patient and understanding with your loved one and have strategies to cope with any challenging behaviour. Mumby’s offers outstanding dementia care at home.

If you need help supporting a loved one, speak to a member of our team today on freephone 0800 505 3511 or email to find out how we can assist you with your home care needs.

Useful links

Dementia Live-in Care

Five benefits of live in care for dementia patients

Supporting someone with dementia

Award-winning Dementia Care

Conducting Wellbeing Dementia in the Family