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Sundown Syndrome – 4 Tips for Helping People with Dementia to Sleep Better

Sundown Syndrome – 4 Tips for Helping People with Dementia to Sleep Better


Any home caregivers out there reading this who have experience in caring for people with dementia will know right away how difficult dementia patients find it to get to sleep at night. 

In-home care services are extremely valuable when it comes to dementia, yet one of the biggest issues these senior home care providers face is helping the patients to get a good night’s sleep. 

Sundown syndrome, also known as ‘sundowning’ is a condition causing people with dementia to enter a state of confusion which usually begins late in the afternoon and lasts well into the night. This can cause the patient to become confused and disorientated, which may cause them to pace and wander when they should be sleeping.

If you care for somebody with dementia who struggles to sleep at night, here are 4 tips designed to help people with dementia sleep better.

Invest in a weighted blanket

Weighted blankets have been proven to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression and they can help to promote a good night’s sleep in people with dementia as well. 

Weighted blankets help to reduce the agitation often associated with sundown syndrome, which helps them to drift off and get to sleep at night. 

The blanket provides a firm, yet gentle, pressure that calms and soothes the person, promoting feelings of relaxation and is thought to stimulate the brain into producing serotonin and increasing melatonin. This helps improve the overall sleep quality in dementia.

Use a glowing timer device

One of the most effective tips for people struggling to sleep at night due to dementia is to use a glowing timer device.

A glowing timer device utilizes a metronome and light pattern system that lasts around 20 minutes. The idea here is that it helps people living with dementia to concentrate and focus on controlling their breathing, which in turn will help them to fall asleep more naturally. 

Many home care assistance providers recommend these products as they have been scientifically proven to help people get to sleep at night if they suffer from sundowning. 

Try to adjust eating habits

Another home nursing care tip for dementia patients struggling to sleep is to adjust their eating patterns and habits. 

A lot of people struggle to sleep after a large meal, and the older you get, the more difficulty your digestive system tends to have in digesting food. Going to sleep on a full stomach can leave people struggling to sleep and get comfortable. 

Dementia patients struggling to sleep should ideally try to eat earlier on in the evening, and avoid caffeinated beverages such as tea or coffee. 

Healthy foods, especially those rich in good fats, are also beneficial for the brain and for hormone regulation, which could also prove helpful. 

Get full-time home care

Finally, hiring full-time in-home care services is highly recommended to ensure that a wandering dementia patient isn’t a danger to themselves or others at night. 

With full-time care the person with dementia stays safe, they’re looked after, and they may even be reassured and put at ease, which can also help them drift off to sleep more easily. 

Closing Thoughts

Coping with dementia is never easy, nor is caring for a person living with dementia. As difficult as it is for the person with dementia to get to sleep, sleep is important for mental health as well as physical, which is why we need to do everything we can to help them sleep at night. 

The tips we’ve provided above come from professionals with years of experience and have been proven to work, so why not see how many you can implement and see what a difference they can make?


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