Why Alzheimer’s patients sleep so much?

Asked by Anonymous

Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease that results in dementia symptoms. Alzheimer’s is responsible for the majority of dementia diagnoses given. While the condition is different for each person who experiences it, the disease tends to advance systematically.

Scientists believe that the condition is caused by the buildup of proteins in the brain. These proteins are called plaques and tangles. The formations of plaques and tangles block brain cells from absorbing needed nutrients and interrupt their ability to communicate with one another. This results in the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease, and brain cells eventually begin to die. Over time the disease results in atrophy or a loss of mass in the brain overall as cells continue to die.

Alzheimer’s advances in particular stages. The earlier symptoms are memory and cognitive-related. Difficulty recalling words or names in the beginning, is common. In the middle stage, which may last for many years, memory issues become more severe. Wandering and becoming lost and difficulty remembering personal history and events and personal information like home address are common during this stage.

In the later stage of Alzheimer’s, the loss of motor abilities like walking, swallowing, and talking are impacted by the damage to the brain’s cells. Sleep issues are common in the later stages of Alzheimer’s. The patient may begin to sleep at odd hours and more often. This occurs for a few reasons. The damage caused by the disease leads to an increase in exhaustion over time. This extreme tiredness causes the need to sleep.

Some of the medications that may be used to treat mood issues that are often experienced with Alzheimer’s can cause sleepiness and increase sleep. Increased sleeping can signify that the disease is progressing, but if you notice any changes in your loved one with Alzheimer’s, talk with their medical provider for guidance. People in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease are more prone to infection. They may struggle with communicating, so they may have trouble communicating pain or other symptoms to you or other care providers. This makes it important to talk with the doctor involved if there are any sudden changes in symptoms or behavior.

If you have concerns about Alzheimer’s symptoms, talk with your doctor or your loved one’s doctor. You can also contact the Alzheimer’s Helpline at 1-800-272-3900.

(MS., CMHC., NCC.)