Sleep and Dementia

Written by Nicole Scheidl

November 9, 2011

A good night’s sleep is critical for good brain functioning yet many older adults and particularly those with dementia have trouble sleeping. It is estimated that between 40 -60% of people with dementia also have a sleep disorder. Getting treatment for this underlying disorder may have a significant effect on cognitive functioning.

One disorder that can have a significant impact on an individual’s cognitive functioning is sleep apnoea. Sleep apnoea deprives the brain of oxygen for short periods of time and can have a cumulative effect on cognitive functioning. Thus it is vital to seek treatment.

Another way to improve sleep in people with dementia is to increase daytime activity and ensure the individual is getting some physical exercise. Enjoyable daytime activities increase the production of hormones and chemicals that improve mood and decrease anxiety.

Sleep hygiene can also impact an individuals’ ability to sleep well. In individuals with dementia, poor sleep hygiene can accelerate cognitive decline and even increase aggressive behaviour. For ideas about improving sleep habits click here.

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