Managing disrupted sleep

My husband sleeps all day, and then he is up walking around all night. What can I do? 

Disrupted sleep or change in sleep pattern is fairly common, however, a regular sleep pattern is essential for your husband, and for you. As with meal times, try to keep a regular sleep routine; the same time to bed at night, and the same time getting up each day.

Try to discourage day-time naps. One hour during the day after lunch is fine, but longer naps may affect night sleep.

By keeping your husband occupied during the day, it may help him sleep better at night. Some suggestions include: helping with housework, walks in a park, social activities, exercise (even simple arm or leg exercise whilst sitting), attending clubs, outings, watching a video, looking at old photographs, and spending time with friends and relatives.

Spending time in natural sunlight, especially in the morning, helps to balance our sleep pattern (our body-clock). And as bedtime approaches, dim the house lights, keep the surroundings calm, and avoid giving caffeine (coffee, tea, certain fizzy drinks) after 2pm in the afternoon.

If your husband is walking around at night, be aware of hazards and safety, e.g. trip hazards, trying to use the cooker or kettle, leaving the house and walking outside. Use nightlights to help with finding the toilet, but aim to keep bedrooms dark, and the room temperature on the cool side.

Someone diagnosed with dementia can become increasingly restless, confused, agitated, or distressed, particularly as the sun is setting and it becomes dark outside. This is known as ‘sundowning’. It can happen at different times of the day too, and is distressing for the person as usually they are trying to get home, to pick the children up or some other task, and getting frustrated when they can’t do so.

Discuss with the GP if you notice your husband has breathing difficulty or stops breathing for short periods during sleep (this is called ‘sleep apnoea’, and it can disturb the quality of sleep they have).

It is very important that you get enough sleep yourself. Please discuss concerns with the GP so that you can both work towards getting quality sleep.