Alzheimer’s: Get Your Sleep

Enjoying a good night’s sleep may be easier said than done for the person who has early Alzheimer’s. Disruptions in sleep are a result of changes in the sleep-wake cycle, which is regulated by the brain. They may also be caused by medications, other medical conditions such as depression, or a bad sleep environment.

To try and ensure good sleep, practice the following:

• Stick to a regular bedtime schedule as much as you can. That means getting out of bed at the same time every morning and going to bed at the same time every night. You should also stick to a schedule for meals and activities throughout the day.

• Avoid drinking or eating anything with caffeine, such as coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate, which can disrupt the sleep-wake cycle, too. You should also avoid drinking alcohol, which can disturb sleep.

• Try to get some regular exercise every day. Even a short walk or some gende stretches can help. Regular physical activity helps promote sleep.

• Expose yourself to bright light. Being in bright light helps set your circadian rhythm, which orchestrates the timing of your internal bodily functions and will make you alert during the day and more fatigued at night.

• At night, keep your sleep environment dark. Place dark shades on bright windows, and keep shades and curtains drawn. The darkness in the evening also helps establish your circadian rhythm. If you’re concerned about falling or tripping, use night lights if necessary.

• Avoid excessive stimulation in the evening hours. Television shows that are too exciting or conversations about heated topics can disrupt sleep. Try reading, taking a bubble bath, or listening to music instead.

• If you suspect that medications are the culprit behind your sleeplessness, consult your physician about changing drugs or altering the dosage.

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