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The key is to know what common causes to look for, and come prepared to provide useful information to the doctor.Here’s what to know about what can cause sleep problems, how they should be evaluated, proven approaches that help, and some information about commonly tried medications for this problem.Now, sleep problems do often take a little effort to evaluate and improve.But as I explain below, research has found that it is often possible to improve sleep problems in dementia.Sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea are also common in aging.Seniors with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are likely to be affected by any of these factors that change sleep in older adults, plus dementia brings on extra changes that make night-time awakenings more common.
Investigators gave 220 people with Alzheimer’s disease either placebo or a combination of quinidine and dextromethorphan (Nuedexta). Dextromethorphan is the active ingredient in many OTC cough medicines (the DM in Robitussin DM, for example).Studies have also shown that even younger healthy people perform worse on cognitive tests when they are sleep-deprived.Getting enough sleep is important, for people diagnosed with dementia and their hard-working caregivers.Furthermore, Lewy-body dementia and Parkinson’s are also associated with a sleep disorder called REM sleep behavior disorder, which can cause violent movements during sleep and can even emerge before thinking problems become substantial.In short, most seniors develop lighter sleep as they age, and many older adults have health problems that prompt night-time awakenings.
Many people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s have additional chronic health problems that may be associated with sleep difficulties. Common causes of secondary sleep problems include: 3.