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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

How to Help Dementia Patients Sleep Better With a Bedtime Routine

How to Help Dementia Patients Sleep Better With a Bedtime Routine

Sleep routines are essential for maintaining healthy sleep habits. This is true at any age and ability, but especially for dementia patients.


Dementia patients often experience confusion: about events, facts, and what's happening around them. They may not completely understand what time it is. This can make it difficult for them to pick up on environmental cues that help them figure out when it's nighttime and time to go to sleep.


With a sleep routine, dementia patients can be reassured with regular activities that signal sleep time every night without fail. Practicing a regular sleep routine helps tell the body that it's almost time to go to bed, and makes it easier to calm down and drift off to sleep as you subconsciously follow the cues of bedtime.

Sleep Disorders Common in Dementia Patients

Dementia patients may experience sleep disorders that can make it difficult to get a good night's rest. Sleep disorders and difficulties often found among dementia patients include:


  • Excessive daytime sleepiness

  • Sleep apnea

  • Chronic snoring

  • Nighttime wandering

  • Insomnia

  • REM sleep behavior disorder

  • Periodic limb movements


With an increased risk of certain sleep disorders, creating healthy sleep habits is especially important. With good sleep habits, you can help dementia patients make the most of their rest with quality sleep time.

Using Healthy Sleep Habits to Improve Sleep in Dementia Patients

As a caregiver, you can support healthy sleep habits. Maintain a regular sleep routine and schedule, avoid sleep pitfalls, and create a safe sleeping environment to improve the quality of sleep in dementia patients.


  • Make the bedroom environment comfortable: The ideal sleep environment should be cool, dark, quiet, and comfortable. Focus on making your dementia patient's bedroom as comfortable as possible.

  • Consider mobility needs: If your dementia patient is prone to falling out of bed, a low profile bed without a box spring and with rails may be a good choice. This can help avoid falls out of bed. However, if they need a taller bed to stand up in the morning, that's a consideration as well.

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule and routine: Dementia patients should go to sleep and wake up at the same time each night and morning. They can benefit from consistency and knowing what to expect on a regular basis. A consistent sleep routine can be simple, but it's important to do the same thing each and every night before going to bed, as this can offer calming cues that signal to the brain and body that it's bedtime, and therefore time to go to sleep.

  • Practice good sleep hygiene: Good sleep hygiene means avoiding some of the practices that can interfere with sleep. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and heavy meals at night. Reserve exercise for earlier in the day, avoiding it in the hours just before bed. Stop screen time, including TV, at least an hour before bedtime.



Tuck Sleep Foundation is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. Tuck has been featured on NPR, Lifehacker, Radiolab and is referenced by many colleges/universities and sleep organizations across the web.

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