Sleep Tips for Seniors With Sundowners Syndrome

Senior Man Sleeps On Couch

If you are looking after a senior loved one who struggles with sundowners as part of their current battle with dementia, then getting these seniors to sleep each and every night is paramount. While there is currently no cure for sundowning, there have been numerous studies that have found that regular, quality sleep can actually help curb some of the side effects associated with this condition as well as the intensity of different sundowning episodes.

If you have ever experienced a senior who has sundowner’s syndrome, you might be apprehensive about starting a sleep schedule, let alone maintaining a sleep schedule. However, it is often much easier than it seems if you keep a few tips in mind.

  • Adjust your loved one’s sleep schedule so they go to bed earlier in the day. Since sundowning is most common later in the evening, adjusting your loved one’s sleep schedule so they go to bed early and wake up early can help keep their sundowning symptoms under control.
  • Create a pre-bed routine so it is easier for your loved one to get to sleep quickly and stay asleep longer. This routine should be relaxing and include something like reading, taking a bath or other activities that can help your loved one’s brain get in the mood for sleep.
  • Make sure your loved one has a quiet, cool, dark place to sleep in to avoid middle-of-the-night interruptions.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine in the afternoon as this can make it very difficult for seniors to fall asleep.
  • Schedule your loved one’s meals for the same time everyday to help them get in a routine.
  • Make sure to leave time for a nap in your loved one’s schedule so they aren’t so tired at the end of the day. Both physical and mental end-of-day exhaustion are linked to making sundowning worse. Don’t make the nap too long though. If your loved one spends most of the day sleeping, it may cause them to spend most of the evening on alert.
  • Keep the home well lit in the evening before your loved one goes to sleep. When it is dark in the home at night time, it can make your loved one’s living space seem confusing or unfamiliar and start to trigger some of these sundowning symptoms.
  • Try to limit television at night right before your loved one goes to sleep. Watching television is a stimulant and it can also cause confusion in seniors who may not be able to distinguish reality from what they see on the string.

Creating and maintaining a sleep schedule can be extremely beneficial to any senior battling this condition. It will help prevent any surprises that can ultimately cause confusions or outbursts and help seniors stay healthy and well rested. While sundowning can be difficult, it doesn’t mean there aren’t ways that you can help improve the overall quality of life for your loved one while they deal with this condition.

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