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4.4 Rest well

Even usual activities can be mentally tiring for people with dementia.

Give yourself breaks during the day

People with dementia describe how mentally tiring it can be to do usual activities like having lunch with friends or going to a concert. They recommend taking breaks between activities to recharge. They also suggest to not schedule too many activities on one day or to give yourself rest days.  

  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep a night

As people get older, they experience changes to their sleep patterns such as needing less sleep, going to bed earlier and waking earlier, taking longer to fall asleep, and experiencing poorer sleep. People with dementia can experience these same changes and more, including a feeling of tiredness during the day or trouble falling or staying asleep at night. 

Strategies for sleeping better

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. 
  • Prioritize sleep. 
  • Establish a routine for going to bed, including 30 minutes to wind down. 
  • Make sure you have a comfortable mattress, pillow, and bedding and that your room is at the right temperature. 
  • Don’t drink right before you go to bed. This will reduce the need to go to the bathroom during the night. 

Sleep disorders in people with dementia

People with dementia, particularly Lewy body dementia, are more likely to experience restless leg syndrome. People with restless leg syndrome have an uncontrollable urge to move their legs, especially at night which keeps them awake. 

It’s more common for people with dementia to have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes people to stop breathing for short periods of time while asleep. These people often snore loudly or wake abruptly. If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause brain damage. Ask your partner if they’ve noticed you snore loudly or have periods where you stop breathing during the night. 

If you are experiencing trouble with your sleep or if you think you may have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor. They may send you to a sleep specialist who will perform an assessment and offer treatment. 

Rest well

  • Try to get 8 hours sleep a night, by cutting down on daytime naps and using a sleep routine. Talk to your doctor if you have trouble sleeping.