Many people feel groggy and tired for a few days after the clocks go forward. But for people with dementia, who often don’t sleep well at the best of times, the change can unfortunately disrupt sleep patterns for a lot longer.
However, there are some simple steps you can take to make the process easier:
1 – Stick to a routine – don’t alter the way you normally do things before bed. The calmer the person with dementia feels in the evening, the better chance they have of sleeping well.
2 – Lighten the mood – if you’re feeling anxious about the prospect of a sleepless night, try not to show it. Instead, try watching a favourite comedy show together or a feel-good film to help you both relax.
Tip: Avoid any conversations that could be potentially upsetting or difficult for either of you. Whatever it is…it can wait until morning.
3 – Pamper time – this might mean running a relaxing bath with a few drops of lavender or camomile essential oils, which are very relaxing. Or you could offer to give the person you care about a hand or foot massage.
Tip: Don’t underestimate the power of human touch, it can be extremely soothing when nerves are frazzled.
4 – Get back to basics in the bedroom – are your bedroom curtains heavy enough to stop light getting in? If not, invest in some black out lining or consider buying some blackout blinds. If the person you love wakes up and see that it’s dark, they’ll probably be less likely to get up and start walking around.
Tip: These Magic Blackout Blinds fit any window and offer good value for money because they’re reusable.
5 – Put a clock next to their bed – choose a clock which shows not just the time but whether it’s day or night. If you don’t have one, there are lots to choose from here XX
6 – Remember, it’s not their fault. Dementia and Alzheimer’s cause changes within the brain which can make it harder for people to realise when it’s day or night. It can also cause disorientation after dreaming, making them very confused when they wake up and unsure whether it’s day or night.
7 – Be kind to yourself – sleepless nights or disrupted sleep can affect your own mental and physical health. If the person you care about picks up on your stress, this can make them feel more anxious too. If you find yourself caught up in a vicious cycle, with both of you losing sleep, it could be worth talking to your GP or requesting another carers assessment.
8 – Talk to someone who understands. – the Unforgettable Dementia Support Group has nearly two thousand members who are warm, empathic and ready to listen. If you’re feeling exhausted and despondent, go here for some friendly support and words of wisdom.