How to get dementia patients to sleep/in bed at night?

July 4, 2024 - Reading time: 9 minutes

Are you struggling to help a loved one with dementia get a good night's sleep? Don't worry, there are plenty of strategies you can try! First and foremost, establishing a regular sleep schedule is key. 

Encourage your loved one to stay active during the day to promote a healthy sleep cycle. And when it comes to bedtime, create a relaxing environment by dimming the lights and playing some soothing tunes. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the evenings can also help improve sleep quality. If your loved one feels anxious or disoriented at night, try providing some reassurance to help them feel more at ease. 

Of course, it's always important to consult with a medical professional to determine the best course of action for managing your loved one's specific symptoms. With a little patience and some trial and error, you can help your loved one get the restful sleep they deserve.

Understanding the importance of sleep for dementia patients is crucial. It is well documented that sleep helps the brain function better and memory consolidate. This is particularly important for people with dementia, as they can experience issues with their cognitive function, including memory loss and confusion. Lack of sleep can further exacerbate these symptoms and impact the ability to perform daily activities. Ensuring that individuals with dementia get an adequate amount of restful sleep can help improve their overall quality of life and slow the progression of the disease.

Dementia and Sleep

getting help for dementia patients to have a good night's sleep can present some challenges; however, employing various techniques can be effective. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Maintain a Routine
  • Limit Naps
  • Create a Calm Environment
  • Reduce Stimulants
  • Encourage Physical Activity
  • Monitor Medications - Manage medication 
  • Manage Sundowning
  • Use Light Therapy
  • Address Discomfort
  • Reduce liquid
  • Try Relaxation Techniques

Maintain a Routine:

Establishing a consistent daily routine that includes regular sleep and wake times can greatly improve dementia patients' care at home. This technique can effectively regulate the internal clock of individuals living with dementia. By maintaining a professional approach towards implementing these measures, we could provide efficient and effective care for dementia patients.

The Dementia Care Support Guide encourages carers/caregivers to follow this routine consistently and observe the positive impacts on the overall well-being of individuals under their care.

Why routine and familiarity is important to a person with dementia?

Limit Naps:

It is advisable to minimise daytime naps to avoid disrupting nighttime sleep. If dementia patient requires a nap, we recommend keeping them brief and scheduling them earlier in the day. This approach will support healthy sleep hygiene and improve overall sleep quality in dementia care. 

Create a Calm Environment:

Creating a comfortable and calming sleeping environment is crucial in the context of providing care for individuals with dementia at home. One of the top priorities is to maintain a space that is dark, quiet, and set at an optimal temperature. In addition, incorporating assistive technological tools such as Alexa and Google smart devices may improve the quality of sleep for individuals with dementia. By integrating smart tools, carers/caregivers may ensure a safer and more controlled environment for a loved one with dementia.

These assistive devices can help create a more predictable and reassuring atmosphere, promoting better sleep hygiene and overall quality of life. Taking these steps can make a significant difference in creating a safe and comfortable sleeping environment for individuals with dementia at home.

Reduce Stimulants:

To maintain optimal health and promote a restful night's sleep, it is recommended to limit the intake of caffeine and sugar, especially during the evening hours. Additionally, it is advisable to avoid engaging in stimulating activities close to bedtime. By implementing these simple habits, you can effectively promote a healthy and restorative sleep pattern, enhancing dementia patients' overall well-being and productivity levels.

Encourage Physical Activity:

Regular light exercise can improve the overall quality of dementia care at home. Activities such as gentle stretching or walking can provide physical health benefits, cognitive functioning improvement, and a better mood. However, timing matters, and it is recommended to avoid vigorous activity in the evening. Try gentle, calming activities like listening to soothing music or using relaxation techniques. By following these strategies, carers/caregivers can create a supportive environment that helps individuals with dementia maintain their overall health and well-being.

Monitor Medications:

The Dementia Care Support Guide recommends seeking guidance from a healthcare professional to evaluate any medication-related effects that may disrupt your sleep. Certain medications can impact your sleep and may require modification for optimal benefit.

Manage Sundowning:

One strategy to consider in the event of sundowning among individuals experiencing increased confusion and agitation in the evening might involve the implementation of calming activities or the provision of a light snack. This approach may help alleviate distress or agitation, and could potentially contribute to a more peaceful and settled environment for all involved. As always, it is important to approach such situations with compassion and sensitivity and to take into account the unique needs and circumstances of those involved. By remaining attentive and responsive to the needs of individuals experiencing sundowning, we can help ensure their comfort, safety, and well-being throughout the caregiving process.

Use Light Therapy:

Research suggests that incorporating exposure to natural light during the day may help regulate the circadian rhythm of individuals with dementia. This has been considered one of the leading solutions in dementia care for those who choose to receive care at home.

Address Discomfort:

To improve the comfort of the patient and promote a night of restful sleep, it is advised to conduct an assessment for any physical discomfort, such as pressure sores. Additionally, it is recommended to evaluate the quality of the bed mattress and pillows, as they can significantly impact the patient's sleeping experience.

Reduce Liquid:

Please consider reducing the liquid intake of dementia patients in the evening to minimise the need to use the bathroom at night. This method could help prevent any discomfort they may experience in the following days and also serve as a good technique to prevent falls.

Try Relaxation Techniques:

To promote effective sleep in dementia care at home, incorporating gentle music, aromatherapy, or relaxation exercises before bedtime can be incredibly soothing. Additionally, utilising assistive technologies such as Alexa and Google smart speakers can be immensely helpful in providing proper care. Don't hesitate to seek assistance in your caregiving journey and explore various techniques and technologies that can improve the overall quality of sleep for those in your care.

Behavioural Techniques:

It is recommended that individuals consult with a healthcare professional or specialised therapist who can provide tailored behavioural interventions for those experiencing symptoms of dementia. Seeking the advice of a professional can help individuals effectively manage behavioural challenges associated with dementia.


In managing dementia care, prescription sleep medications may be an option of last resort. It is important to exercise caution and obtain medical supervision when administering such medications. Furthermore, trained carers/caregivers must administer the medication to ensure proper administration and monitoring.

4 Effective Strategies to Ensure Dementia Patients Stay Rested Throughout the Night

Are you ready to improve the quality of life for both you and your loved one with dementia? By implementing these four strategies, you can help ensure a good night's rest for your loved one and improve their overall health. Remember, even small changes can make a big difference in their sleep patterns and help reduce the exhaustion and stress that you may be experiencing as a caregiver. So let's dive in and start making positive changes to improve the sleep of those we care for the most. With perseverance and patience, you can make a significant difference in the life of your loved one and find peace in knowing you are helping them get the rest they deserve.

Firstly, establishing a consistent bedtime routine is important. Creating a calming environment and following a predictable sequence of activities before bed can signal to the brain that it's time to sleep. 

Secondly, keeping the bedroom dark and quiet can aid in promoting better sleep. Consider using blackout curtains, earplugs, or white noise machines to minimize disruptions and distractions.

Thirdly, providing regular exercise during the day can help maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle. Engaging in gentle physical activities, such as walking or stretching, can improve sleep quality. 

Lastly, consider implementing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises or listening to soothing music, to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety before bedtime. By incorporating these strategies into your routine, you can significantly improve the sleep patterns of dementia patients and ensure better rest for both them and their caregivers.

Remember that dementia patients may have unique needs, so it's crucial to work closely with their healthcare team to develop a personalised plan for better sleep. Additionally, what works for one person may not work for another, so be patient and flexible when trying different strategies.


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