The Vital Connection between Sleep & Dementia Risk in Seniors

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how is dementia linked to sleep issues arlington va

Sleep is essential for good brain function. During waking hours, toxins and waste products accumulate in the brain and are then removed during sleep. Chronic lack of sleep may therefore be harmful to brain health because it exposes the brain to chronically high levels of toxins. Here’s a quick look at this relationship and some tips for how families can help their aging loved ones enjoy a good night’s rest. 

Sleep & Alzheimer’s 

A study published in 2014 found that sleep disturbances at age 70 were linked to a higher risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Sleep disturbances at age 50 weren’t linked to an increased risk of dementia but were associated with hypertension and diabetes. In this study, men were enrolled at age 50 and then followed for around 40 years. Other long-term studies have shown similar results, linking sleep disturbances in seniors to a greatly increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. 

Older adults with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia often have difficulty falling asleep and getting the high-quality rest their brains and bodies need. Aging in place can present a few challenges for seniors living with dementia. However, they can still live independently at home with the help of professional dementia care. Arlington families can rely on Assisting Hands Home Care to provide their elderly loved ones with mental and social stimulation, timely medication reminders, assistance with meal prep, and much more. Our caregivers are available around the clock to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life.

Sleep & Seniors 

Seniors need about an hour less of sleep per night than younger people. Despite this fact, many seniors experience sleep deprivation. Seniors tend to sleep less deeply and wake up more frequently throughout the night. Many seniors also experience changes in their body clocks that cause them to fall asleep early and wake early, which can be disruptive to normal daily life. As a result, many seniors feel the need to take stimulants such as caffeine to stay awake later in the evening but continue to wake up early in the morning. 

Seniors can get adequate rest at night by making healthy lifestyle choices. If your aging loved one needs help managing everyday tasks or encouragement to adopt healthier lifestyle choices, turn to Assisting Hands Home Care, a leading provider of home care. Arlington Assisting Hands Home Care provides professional in-home caregivers around the clock to help seniors live longer, happier, and healthier lives.


The authors of the 2014 study cited above stated that their findings suggested a possible way to reduce the risk of dementia in seniors. If sleep disturbances can be treated instead of brushed off as part of aging, perhaps the risk of dementia can be reduced substantially. 

Fortunately, sleep problems can be treated easily in some seniors. For example, some seniors cannot sleep well due to untreated pain. In these cases, speaking with a doctor, determining the cause of the pain, and seeing if there are any medications that can be prescribed to counteract the pain can promote comfortable sleep. Others simply need to be encouraged to be more active and avoid napping and consuming caffeine. 

For seniors with health conditions that make it difficult to sleep through the night, having a professional caregiver close by can provide a sense of comfort. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Assisting Hands Home Care, a leading provider of elderly home care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Call us at (703) 997-4334 today to talk to one of our compassionate Care Managers about our high-quality home care services.