My spouse has Alzheimer’s and isn’t sleeping at night. What should I do?

Sleeplessness or insomnia can be a common Alzheimer’s issue, though not everyone experiences it. If your loved one does, here are some helpful tips: 

  • Keep your physician informed so he or she can intervene, if needed (this might be a condition you monitor for a while)
  • Ask the doctor about medications that might be interfering with sleep
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol intake
  • Discourage naps during the day
  • Plan relaxing, soothing activities for close to bedtime (play calming music, for example). This could involve having a light snack.
  • Make sure your loved one goes to the bathroom before bedtime
  • Keep to a routine at bedtime, yet, as always, you have to remain flexible
  • Use a favorite pillow or blanket to help relaxation efforts
  • Do bathing or any other activity that could be upsetting earlier in the day: Steer clear of anything that could create tension or be upsetting near bedtime
  • Don’t make bedtime too early
  • Keep the person as active as possible during the day. Walking, working in the yard, dancing or any other activity he or she likes to do can be helpful.
  • Ensure comfortable clothing and temperature are in play at bedtime. If putting on sleepwear agitates your spouse, let it go and let her or him sleep in regular clothes.
  • If your loved one falls asleep on the couch, let her or him stay and sleep there.
  • Use night lights liberally in the bedroom, hallways and bathrooms.

Dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer’s is a daunting task. There’s no need to tackle it alone, however. An excellent resource is “The Indispensable Alzheimer’s Resource Kit.” It can be downloaded at no cost by clicking here.