Why do dementia patients tend to sleep a lot?
It’s normal for sufferers to sleep a lot in later-stage dementia. While the disease grows, the damage to the patient’s brain becomes more profound, and the sufferer gets feebler over time. So, the sufferer feels exhausted to do regular daily tasks like talking, eating, or even comprehending what is happening around them. That is to say, the more their symptoms develop, the more they want to sleep.
Dementia patients often reverse their sleep patterns entirely, staying awake all night and sleeping all day. Sleeping more and more is a typical symptom of dementia in later stages. The damage to a person’s brain gets more severe as the disease progresses, and as a result, they gradually become weaker. It may be unpleasant for the family and friends, who may get worried that something is wrong.
Nobody knows why dementia disrupts sleep habits. It’s possible that some people’s internal ‘biological clock,’ which determines what time it is, is broken, causing them to feel tired at the wrong time of day. Certain parts of the brain determine whether or not we stay up, and if they get damaged, they may stop working flawlessly.
With dementia, the damage to a person’s brain becomes more extensive over time, gradually becoming weaker. The reasons can be:
• Boredom: seniors with dementia might not be able to do everything they used to. This can make them pretty fed up. If there’s nothing to do, they might as well just go back to bed.
• Medication: Plenty of drugs can make one sleepy, particularly pain meds and sedatives.
• Confusion: Maybe they just woke up, looked around for a bit, and couldn’t remember what they were doing. Or, they’re already in bed! So it must be bedtime. Sleep.
• They’ve been up all night: People with dementia often get more restless at night time, meaning they’ll get up and wander around.
• It’s winter: They often maintain that inbuilt response to dark outside. So in the winter, they’ll tend to sleep a lot, and in the summer, they’ll stay up all night!
It is not surprising to see someone with dementia (especially in the later stages) spending a large portion of his time sleeping, both during the night and day. This may worry family members as they might think something goes wrong. Sleeping more and more is typical for someone dealing with later stages of dementia. As dementia develops, the brain keeps on shrinking more and more, slowly leading towards a weaker, more fragile body. As a result, doing relatively simple tasks like eating, communicating, or even trying to understand what’s happening around would be pretty challenging. It simply makes staying awake tiresome, so they’ll sleep more during the day as symptoms worsen. Disordered sleeping pattern is common for people dealing with dementia. They also suffer from other difficulties as follows:
• Spending the whole day in bed while being restless and awake at night. Not being able to find the restroom in the dark and becoming disoriented.
• Waking up at night more frequently and not going back to sleep.
• Waking up in the middle of the night and thinking it’s daytime or time to get ready for work.
• Incapable of distinguishing night and day.
It’s unclear why dementia changes sleeping patterns. If the inherent “biological clock,” which estimates the time of the day, gets hurt, the person might feel sleepy at the wrong time. Deciding whether to stay awake or not is also regulated by other parts of our brain, and these parts may also fail to work appropriately if harmed. Sometimes, regular sleep patterns will be reversed in people with dementia, making them stay awake all night and sleep all day.