Alzheimer’s: Sleep Remedies for Alzheimer’s

In people who have Alzheimer’s, sleep disturbances are common. You may have trouble getting to sleep or wake up frequently in the middle of the night. You may awaken earlier than you should. As the disease progresses, the lack of sleep can cause uncontrollable resdessness, and some people may begin to wander. Sleep problems may be exacerbated if you also suffer from depression, restless leg syndrome (an uncontrollable urge to move your legs move at night), or sleep apnea (an abnormal breathing pattern that causes you to stop breathing many times a night). As a result, you may wind up sleeping more than usual or not getting enough sleep.

Resolving your sleep problems often involves establishing a consistent sleep schedule, creating new sleep-inducing habits at bedtime, getting more physical activity, and avoiding foods and beverages that contain stimulants such as caffeine. But if non-drug therapies fail to improve sleep, your doctor may recommend that you try a medication. Medications that help promote sleep include some of those that have already been mentioned for the treatment of other symptoms. Or your doctor may prescribe:

• Benzodiazepines. These commonly prescribed drugs are used to cause sedation, induce sleep, relieve anxiety, eliminate muscle spasms, and prevent seizures. Some typically pre¬scribed for people who have trouble getting to sleep include temazepam (Restoril) and lorazepam (Ativan).

• Nonbenzodiazepines. These medications are used for the treatment of short-term insomnia and include Zolpidem (Ambien) and zaleplon (Sonata). Additionally, the anti-psychotics mentioned above may be used for insomnia.

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