A person struggling with dementia finds it hard to perform seemingly simple actions such as conversing, eating, or attempting to comprehend what is going on around them. As the person’s symptoms worsen, they might require them to sleep more.  

Dementia is a broad concept that generally refers to a set of symptoms characterized by a decline in cognitive ability, memory, thinking, and reasoning skills. Several forms of dementia exist, such as vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and mixed dementia. “Why do people with dementia sleep so much?” It’s a valid question with several potential answers. In this blog, we will look at several explanations for why people with dementia may sleep more or less than usual and its causes and effects. 

Does Dementia Increase Tiredness or Exhaustion in Individuals?

There are a few theories as to why individuals with dementia experience changes in sleeping patterns. One possible explanation is that dementia can produce fatigue. The condition develops changes in the brain that make it difficult to stay awake during the day. Dementia makes it harder to regulate one’s energy levels, which can lead to oversleeping. The sleeping patterns of dementia patients may vary depending on the severity and type of the condition as well as individual differences. Another theory is that individuals with dementia tend to become tired because they do not get sufficient physical activity or eat a balanced diet. 

In addition to memory loss, behavioral challenges, and issues with self-care, patients with dementia frequently experience sleep-related issues. This is especially true for those who are suffering from the later stages of the condition. While some dementia sufferers tend to oversleep, others may struggle with sleep issues like insomnia or overnight anxiousness or discomfort. 

Why Does Dementia Affect Sleep?

Dementia may interfere with the generation of melatonin, a sleep hormone produced in the brain. When it grows dark in the evening, this helps an individual feel tired. As a person’s dementia worsens, their brain may produce less melatonin, making it more difficult to fall asleep at night. It needs to be emphasized that the relationship between dementia and sleep is complex.  

If a person with dementia does not have enough essential physical, mental, or social activities to keep them active and engaged, they may wind up sleeping for a considerable amount of the day. Shorter sleeps are likely to be lighter, thus the person misses out on the benefits of a long, deep sleep. 

Other long-term health issues, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or depression, are common in people with dementia. The medications used to treat these disorders can sometimes make a person’s sleep worse. It is normal for individuals suffering from dementia to have medical symptoms that keep them awake at night, such as discomfort or urinary problems that demand frequent trips to the toilet. 

For Example, when a person with dementia rises in the middle of the night, they may be anxious or confused about the time. Instead of going back to sleep, they may assume it is time to start the day or that they must be somewhere urgently. 

Sleep disruptions in dementia patients necessitates a multifaceted strategy that includes lifestyle changes, environmental changes, and, in some cases, medicinal interventions to promote improved quality of sleep and general well-being. 

What Are the Causes of Changed Sleeping Patterns in Dementia Patients?

Excessive sleepiness in dementia patients can be caused by a variety of factors, and its treatment requires a strategy tailored to the individual’s demands and overall well-being. 

Memory and Cognitive Impairment

Sleep problems can be caused by difficulties remembering nighttime routines, feeling disoriented during the night, or experiencing nocturnal disorientation.


Some drugs used to treat dementia or other medical conditions can produce sleepiness or sleeplessness. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, and even antihistamines can all contribute to exhaustion in a dementia patient.

Circadian Rhythm Disruption

Dementia can interfere with the body’s internal clock, called the circadian rhythm, which governs sleep-wake cycles. The brain’s capacity to control sleep patterns may be harmed, resulting in irregular sleep-wake cycles. 


Dealing with dementia can be physically taxing for your body. Sleep is a vital element of your body’s healing process, so you may require more of it as your dementia worsens. 

Physical Discomfort or Pain

Dementia patients might suffer physical discomfort or pain as a result of underlying health issues such as arthritis, urinary tract infections, or accidents. This might cause sleep disruption and frequent awakenings. 

Melatonin Depletion

As dementia progresses, your brain’s production of melatonin may decrease. This hormone is essential for regulating your sleep/wake cycles. 

Low Sleep Pressure

Dementia patients may have periods of low activity or boredom during the day. This prevents them from building “sleep pressure” or feeling drained when it’s time to sleep. 

Depression and Anxiety

Patients with dementia may experience depression or anxiety, which might result in trouble falling asleep or frequent awakenings. 

Environmental Factors

Changes in the physical surroundings can have an impact on sleep. Excessive noise, insufficient lighting, an uncomfortable room temperature, or an unfamiliar location may all contribute to sleep disruptions. 

Neurological Changes

Dementia affects different parts of the brain, particularly those that regulate sleep. Sleep disorders such as insomnia, frequent awakenings during the night, or excessive daytime sleepiness can result from damage to these.


Sundowning is a condition in which dementia patients feel greater confusion, restlessness, and agitation in the late afternoon or evening. This can interrupt their sleeping habits and make it difficult for them to fall asleep at night. 

It is best to seek the advice of a healthcare professional, to evaluate specific causes and establish appropriate management techniques for improving sleep in dementia patients. 

What Are Some Common Sleeping Patterns Observed in Dementia Patients?

It’s essential to remember that individual experiences differ, and not all dementia patients have the same sleeping patterns.   


Many dementia patients suffer a phenomenon known as sundowning. This refers to heightened agitation, restlessness, and utter confusion in the late afternoon and nighttime hours. Sundowning can disturb regular sleep patterns, making it difficult for patients to fall or stay asleep at night. 

Fragmented Sleep

Dementia can alter the regular sleep-wake cycle, resulting in fragmented sleep patterns. Patients may struggle to maintain a normal sleep pattern, wake up often during the night, or suffer nightly awakenings. 


While excessive sleepiness is frequent in dementia patients, some may also suffer from sleep deprivation. They may have trouble falling or staying asleep, or they may wake up too early in the morning. 


Hypersomnia is defined as extreme tiredness and a greater demand for sleep throughout the day. Dementia patients with hypersomnia may take long naps during the day which compensate for insufficient nighttime sleep. 

Reversed Sleep-Wake Cycle

Some dementia patients may have a reversed sleep-wake cycle, in which they are more up and active at night and snooze during the daytime. 

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep Behavior Disorder

Individuals with dementia may develop REM sleep behavior disorder, in which they physically act out their dreams while sleeping. This might result in disturbing movements, vocalizations, or even injuries while sleeping. 

Changes in Sleep Duration

Dementia patients’ total sleep duration may change. While certain individuals sleep more than usual, others may sleep significantly fewer hours than they did before dementia. 

While caring for someone with dementia, if you notice significant shifts in their sleep patterns, seek the advice of a healthcare experts for proper evaluation and management.  

What Should you do if a Dementia Patient is Sleeping a lot?

Each dementia patient may have a distinctive combination of circumstances that contribute to their disturbed sleep patterns. If a dementia patient sleeps a lot, a few aspects must be considered, and appropriate actions must be taken. 

Observe and Monitor

Keep track of your sleeping patterns and sleep length. Notify your doctor if you notice any substantial changes, excessive daytime tiredness, or anomalies in their sleep-wake cycle.

Rule Out Underlying Conditions

Consult a medical expert to determine whether there are any deeper medical issues, such as infections, pain, or prescription side effects, that are leading to excessive sleep. 

Promote Mental Stimulation

Engage the individual in mentally engaging activities during their awake hours. This might involve puzzles, reading, conversation, or other things that keep their mind active and engaged.  

Encourage Physical Activity

Engage the person in regular physical exercise appropriate for their capabilities. This can promote wakefulness, improve overall well-being, and contribute to better sleep quality at night.

Establish a Consistent Routine

An established daily schedule, the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle. Routine consistency can also offer the dementia sufferer a sense of connection and stability. 

Limit Daytime Napping

If excessive daytime sleepiness persists, attempt to restrict daytime napping or take short naps that are not too close to bedtime that aids the regulation of sleep patterns and the promotion of healthier nocturnal sleep. 

Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule

Create a consistent sleep regimen for dementia patients. Encourage them to sleep and wake up at the same time every day to help them control their sleep-wake cycle.  

Evaluate Medications

Examine the medications that the individual with dementia is currently taking. Some drugs can make you dizzy or contribute to sleep-related problems.  

Seek Professional Guidance

Consult with healthcare providers who specialize in dementia care if extreme sleepiness persists or is associated by other serious symptoms. 

Ensure a Comfortable Sleeping Environment

Create a peaceful and comfortable resting environment for the dementia patient. Ascertain that the space is calm, dark, and at an appropriate temperature 

It is critical to address such situations with compassion and empathy, and to support the patient in whatever way possible throughout the journey. 

Does Quality Sleep Matter for Dementia Patients?

Yes, yes, yes! Quality sleep is extremely important for dementia patients. A good sleep regimen can help a dementia patient feel better, be less confused, be more coordinated, and have more energy during the day. Sufficient and sound sleeping is critical for overall health, well-being, and cognitive performance. 

Cognitive Function

Quality sleep is necessary for optimum cognitive functioning, which includes memory, attention, and problem-solving ability. 

Emotional Well-Being

Quality sleep helps to manage mood and emotions, lowering the risk of behavioral and psychological dementia symptoms. 

Physical Health

uality sleep is linked with physical health as it aids immunological function, regulates metabolism, and promotes healing and tissue repair. 

Caregiver Well-Being

Quality sleep for people with dementia allows care takers to sleep better and cope better during the day. 

Sundowning and Agitation

Quality sleep and rest can help to maintain a more consistent sleep-wake cycle and reduce disruptive behaviors during the night. 

Behavior and Mood

Quality sleep helps individuals with dementia solve behavioral challenges and improve overall mood.

Healthy brain function requires sufficient sleep, involving our bodies to cycle across the various stages of sleep. Quality sleep is not only advantageous for your memory; it may also reduce the risk of worsening dementia – as well as deaths. 

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