When Do Alzheimer’s Patients Sleep A Lot?

Asked by Anonymous

Until a few years ago, doctors were not overly clear as to why people with Alzheimer’s needed to sleep so often. However, research does show a correlation between people that had a neurodegenerative disease and an increased need to sleep during the day could be at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. In the past few years, new research has come out from the University of San Francisco, along with some other institutions, showing patients with Alzheimer’s have brain cell loss in the brain areas responsible for keeping us awake. According to the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Journal, a protein in the brain called tau can trigger these brain responses if too much is being released. These proteins can disrupt communication between the brain cells or neurons and affect cell health. [Retrieved from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326073.]

When a person enters the later stage of dementia, they become weaker due to the excessive damage to their brain, and increased sleeping is a symptom of that. Daily tasks such as eating, talking, or engaging in what is going on around them are overwhelming and exhausting, so they will sleep more as their symptoms become more severe. Patients with Alzheimer’s usually take many different medications, and some of those could contribute to them feeling groggy or tired as well. If you feel the medication is causing these symptoms, it is important to discuss those concerns with the patient’s doctors.

Alzheimer’s can impact everyone a little bit differently. For some, their sleep patterns can become reversed where they sleep all day and stay up all night, or others have a hard time distinguishing between night and day, or they wake in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep. Therefore they need to nap during the day. Most people that have Alzheimer’s may be sleeping anywhere from 10- 15 hours a day. However, it most likely is not a good sleep quality, as they do not get enough of the slow-wave sleep needed to help the body and brain recovery. [Retrieved from: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/blog/is-it-typical-people-dementia-sleep-lot-during-day]

There is still so much to learn about Alzheimer’s and its overall impact on the brain. There is a lot of new research and treatment options that can help improve the quality of life. It is always important to discuss these options with a doctor to know all of your treatment options.