Moderate Alzheimer's, Frequent Resting and Napping

Posted by tsc @tsc, Sep 26 3:02pm

My husband was formally diagnosed with Alzheimer's in the summer of 2019. I noticed his inability to use the right words two years prior and a withdrawal from social activities, like playing chess, etc. He was on donepezil for a couple of years, without side effects. His short-term memory has worsened lately. The neurologist took him off donepezil and put him on a low-dose antidepressant. Before starting the antidepressant he rested a lot and napped throughout the day. This continues now. He does still help with chores around the house, but chores tire him out and he rests after. His blood tests were good. The neurologist told me that frequent napping is part of this disease. When I've told him he spends too much time in bed, he's gotten upset with me, so I just let him be. He also sleeps at least nine hours a night. He did tell me he's less worried about things on the Citalopram. Has anyone else faced this frequent resting or napping with the person in their care? Are there any solutions or do you just let it go? Thank you.

Hi TSC, I moved your question to the Caregivers: Dementia group. I did this so fellow caregivers like @anthony68 @beloved1 @nskinner5 @marvkw @maryflorida @virginianaeve and @debbraw would see you question about Alzheimer's and sleep. I'm also tagging @larryh123 who lives with Lewy body dementia and may be able to give some insight as well.

While some people with dementia experience sleep disturbances, I've read that sleeping a lot is common and part of the progression of the disease as your neurologist said. Medications can also contribute to sleepiness. You ask, "do I just let it be?" Do you worry that he is sleeping too much?

REPLY

Good morning, @tsc I am sorry to read of your husband's diagnosis, but I'm pleased you found Mayo Connect and that @colleenyoung moved this discussion to the Caregivers group.

My name is Scott and I was one of the caregivers for my MIL who had dementia as well as for my wife whose brain cancer gave her many dementia-similar symptoms.

I understand all patients, their diseases, and journeys are different, I'd like to share what I observed with my wife and MIL.

In both their cases their sleeping patterns changed and changed often. Sometimes these changes occurred in rapid succession, sometimes with plateaus in between them. With both of them (and this is just what I did) I let them define their own sleep patterns and then provided them with as much mental stimulation as they could enjoy while awake. While my MIL tended to sleep in longer periods, my wife never slept for longer than two hours. I did a lot of one-sided talking for sure, but when they were awake did my best to keep them engaged.

Early in my wife's journey, her neuro-oncologist told us that it was only when she was sleeping that her brain could work on figuring out how it could possibly 'rewire' itself to work better in its everchanging environment as the disease progressed within its synapses.

I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have if you think it would be helpful for you.

Strength, Courage, & Peace

REPLY
@IndianaScott

Good morning, @tsc I am sorry to read of your husband's diagnosis, but I'm pleased you found Mayo Connect and that @colleenyoung moved this discussion to the Caregivers group.

My name is Scott and I was one of the caregivers for my MIL who had dementia as well as for my wife whose brain cancer gave her many dementia-similar symptoms.

I understand all patients, their diseases, and journeys are different, I'd like to share what I observed with my wife and MIL.

In both their cases their sleeping patterns changed and changed often. Sometimes these changes occurred in rapid succession, sometimes with plateaus in between them. With both of them (and this is just what I did) I let them define their own sleep patterns and then provided them with as much mental stimulation as they could enjoy while awake. While my MIL tended to sleep in longer periods, my wife never slept for longer than two hours. I did a lot of one-sided talking for sure, but when they were awake did my best to keep them engaged.

Early in my wife's journey, her neuro-oncologist told us that it was only when she was sleeping that her brain could work on figuring out how it could possibly 'rewire' itself to work better in its everchanging environment as the disease progressed within its synapses.

I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have if you think it would be helpful for you.

Strength, Courage, & Peace

Jump to this post

Great information, @IndianaScott, about how sleep helps the brain rewire itself. I've read a lot about dementia but never quite understood the relationship between sleep and dementia, but I've read that people with dementia often have trouble sleeping.

Thanks for that explanation😊

REPLY

My husband had viral encephalitis in 2011. Now, ten years later, he has dementia and also sleeps a lot. He will do things like set the table or help me carry in groceries, when I ask, but otherwise dozes in his recliner during the day and then sleeps at least 10 hours per night. I’m going to ask his neurologist about it when we see him. Lou always liked his sleep, but this is a lot more sleep than ever before. I’ll post what the neurologist says, later. I am concerned, to say the least and do not know what, if anything, I can do.

REPLY
@IndianaScott

Good morning, @tsc I am sorry to read of your husband's diagnosis, but I'm pleased you found Mayo Connect and that @colleenyoung moved this discussion to the Caregivers group.

My name is Scott and I was one of the caregivers for my MIL who had dementia as well as for my wife whose brain cancer gave her many dementia-similar symptoms.

I understand all patients, their diseases, and journeys are different, I'd like to share what I observed with my wife and MIL.

In both their cases their sleeping patterns changed and changed often. Sometimes these changes occurred in rapid succession, sometimes with plateaus in between them. With both of them (and this is just what I did) I let them define their own sleep patterns and then provided them with as much mental stimulation as they could enjoy while awake. While my MIL tended to sleep in longer periods, my wife never slept for longer than two hours. I did a lot of one-sided talking for sure, but when they were awake did my best to keep them engaged.

Early in my wife's journey, her neuro-oncologist told us that it was only when she was sleeping that her brain could work on figuring out how it could possibly 'rewire' itself to work better in its everchanging environment as the disease progressed within its synapses.

I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have if you think it would be helpful for you.

Strength, Courage, & Peace

Jump to this post

Thank you, @IndianaScott I appreciate your comments. It's good to hear a different perspective. My dad had multi-infarct dementia with sundowner's syndrome – so he would want to go to bed very early, but be up most of the night, agitated and unable to sleep. The fact that my husband still does sleep so well is a comfort, and pretty easy on me. I will now consider his naps during the day as restorative versus vegetative. Best to you.

REPLY

Hi @tsc – I'm sorry about your husband's diagnosis. My husband was diagnosed with vascular dementia and Alzheimer's in 2015. As he has declined, his sleep patterns have definitely changed. At this point, he sleeps about 12 hours a night – usually going to bed between 7:30pm and 8 then waking up about 8am or so. His neurologist told me that when the brain isn't working well, it becomes so tiring to process all the activities of life that the person just naturally needs more sleep. That kind of echoes what @IndianaScott said. I accept it and actually appreciate it since it gives me some downtime at the end of the day before I go to bed. Interestingly, my husband never naps – he just sleeps long nights. If it helps any, almost everyone in my support group has dealt with some kind of change in sleep. Best of luck. Let me know if I can elaborate on anything that might help.

REPLY
@debbraw

Hi @tsc – I'm sorry about your husband's diagnosis. My husband was diagnosed with vascular dementia and Alzheimer's in 2015. As he has declined, his sleep patterns have definitely changed. At this point, he sleeps about 12 hours a night – usually going to bed between 7:30pm and 8 then waking up about 8am or so. His neurologist told me that when the brain isn't working well, it becomes so tiring to process all the activities of life that the person just naturally needs more sleep. That kind of echoes what @IndianaScott said. I accept it and actually appreciate it since it gives me some downtime at the end of the day before I go to bed. Interestingly, my husband never naps – he just sleeps long nights. If it helps any, almost everyone in my support group has dealt with some kind of change in sleep. Best of luck. Let me know if I can elaborate on anything that might help.

Jump to this post

Thank you @debbraw – your comments are most helpful. We hear so much about how it's healthier to perform activities that engage the brain to stave off dementia, that I never considered the brain needs rest. Now I can be at ease. All the best,

REPLY

Hello – I am a LBD with Parkinsonism patient. I can give a little idea of what I am dealing with with sleep. This is only my experience.
Many folks with Parkinsonism / Dementia will experience sleep problems. For me – thrashing around, acting out dreams and weird sleep patterns.
REM sleep disorder is very common and effects the sleep. When you dont get REM sleep that can wear you out and your body wants it.
Have you ever considered a sleep study?

My body works overtime with the Parkinsonism which makes me tired physically. The mental part wears me out emotionally.
Sometimes I sleep because I dont want to face what is coming that day so I’d rather sleep.

Excessive daytime tiredness is also common. Sounds like that isn’t an issue with your husband. I had a problem with that for a while where I would be watching tv or looking at computer and start staring and out of it. IF there is someone with EDT and they arent getting that rest – then you hav to get the rest somehow.

I also have bouts with bad depression and that definitely makes me sleep a lot more. Depression / anxiety are both common with these conditions.

I wanted to chime in to give a little perspective from “in here”.

IF you or anyone else might have questions for someone in the “mid” stages of this I will be glad to answer as I can.

Peace
Larry H

REPLY

Larry, you are a gift from God to so many. I understand my sweet husband much better because of you. I cannot imagine writing from "in there'" but am grateful that your gift of the written word is precise, pertinent and practically perfect.
I did not realize that my husband's daytime sleep is a way to escape the demands/expectations of the day or a way to cope with his depression/anxiety. His nighttime antics prevent me from sleeping, but I am committed to being with him to try to keep him from hurting himself and because I love him dearly…and this causes another problem in that I don't get enough sleep because I am sort of sleeping lightly to keep an ear out for him and to protect myself. (He punched me in the hip the other night and it is still sore.. broken nose, punched ribs, etc…but it is ok because he doesn't know he does these things until afterwards when I scream out or he wakes up.) He does have a CPAP and that has been wonderful in that it seems to keep him in one place. and he sleeps under a weighted blanket and that does help him. We also invested in a king size tempurpedic mattress and this helps me sleep because he jerks and shakes as if he is having seizures all night long; this mattress absorbs this part of his sleep .. I would like to add that before the diagnosis of LBD he slept well, and could not sleep during the day. He had zero anxiety or depression – he was absolutely the most confident, energetic, pleasant and happy person. Now, the LBD has changed him in so many ways, and it is a hard road for all of us- but he does it with character, grace, and hope. I am honored to walk this journey with him.

REPLY
@larryh123

Hello – I am a LBD with Parkinsonism patient. I can give a little idea of what I am dealing with with sleep. This is only my experience.
Many folks with Parkinsonism / Dementia will experience sleep problems. For me – thrashing around, acting out dreams and weird sleep patterns.
REM sleep disorder is very common and effects the sleep. When you dont get REM sleep that can wear you out and your body wants it.
Have you ever considered a sleep study?

My body works overtime with the Parkinsonism which makes me tired physically. The mental part wears me out emotionally.
Sometimes I sleep because I dont want to face what is coming that day so I’d rather sleep.

Excessive daytime tiredness is also common. Sounds like that isn’t an issue with your husband. I had a problem with that for a while where I would be watching tv or looking at computer and start staring and out of it. IF there is someone with EDT and they arent getting that rest – then you hav to get the rest somehow.

I also have bouts with bad depression and that definitely makes me sleep a lot more. Depression / anxiety are both common with these conditions.

I wanted to chime in to give a little perspective from “in here”.

IF you or anyone else might have questions for someone in the “mid” stages of this I will be glad to answer as I can.

Peace
Larry H

Jump to this post

Hello, @larryh123 It's good to hear from you again. I always appreciate hearing your perspective. I have a better sense now, after hearing from everyone, that my husband is resting because his body needs it. Thank you.

REPLY
@shirleymac

My husband had viral encephalitis in 2011. Now, ten years later, he has dementia and also sleeps a lot. He will do things like set the table or help me carry in groceries, when I ask, but otherwise dozes in his recliner during the day and then sleeps at least 10 hours per night. I’m going to ask his neurologist about it when we see him. Lou always liked his sleep, but this is a lot more sleep than ever before. I’ll post what the neurologist says, later. I am concerned, to say the least and do not know what, if anything, I can do.

Jump to this post

@shirleymac, thank you for sharing. I look forward to your post after you speak to the neurologist.

REPLY
@teacher502

Larry, you are a gift from God to so many. I understand my sweet husband much better because of you. I cannot imagine writing from "in there'" but am grateful that your gift of the written word is precise, pertinent and practically perfect.
I did not realize that my husband's daytime sleep is a way to escape the demands/expectations of the day or a way to cope with his depression/anxiety. His nighttime antics prevent me from sleeping, but I am committed to being with him to try to keep him from hurting himself and because I love him dearly…and this causes another problem in that I don't get enough sleep because I am sort of sleeping lightly to keep an ear out for him and to protect myself. (He punched me in the hip the other night and it is still sore.. broken nose, punched ribs, etc…but it is ok because he doesn't know he does these things until afterwards when I scream out or he wakes up.) He does have a CPAP and that has been wonderful in that it seems to keep him in one place. and he sleeps under a weighted blanket and that does help him. We also invested in a king size tempurpedic mattress and this helps me sleep because he jerks and shakes as if he is having seizures all night long; this mattress absorbs this part of his sleep .. I would like to add that before the diagnosis of LBD he slept well, and could not sleep during the day. He had zero anxiety or depression – he was absolutely the most confident, energetic, pleasant and happy person. Now, the LBD has changed him in so many ways, and it is a hard road for all of us- but he does it with character, grace, and hope. I am honored to walk this journey with him.

Jump to this post

Hello teacher502, My husband has been diagnosed MCI due to AD. We participated in the Mayo Habit program a year ago. From that contact we are a part of alumni support groups. From a lovely woman who’s husband, like yours, has LBD we’ve learned so many clever accommodations for what she experiences. One such tip that might be useful for you is that the two start out in their bed together being sure th end the day cuddling and sharing embraces. Then he sleeps on a mattress laid on the floor next to her side of the bed. This has prevented the nighttime thrashing and injuries she used to sustain.

REPLY
Please sign in or register to post a reply.
  Request Appointment