Family members caring for seniors with dementia often find themselves struggling to get enough rest. Balancing their own needs with those of their loved ones often makes it difficult or impossible to keep a normal sleep schedule and develop healthy routines. The end result is exhaustion, a weakened immune system, low energy, difficulty focusing and emotional outbursts.

Why Prioritize Sleep

Prioritizing sleep is essential in the prevention of caregiver burnout. While some challenges exist that are at least partially out of the family member’s control, there are effective ways to encourage the body to rest and maintain healthy routines. Here are some tips.

Caring for another person is often a full-time job. The hours a family member must focus on tasks in a day are typically doubled or tripled when that person holds a career outside of the home or has other family members to tend to. Regardless of the importance of all these tasks, it is essential to make getting rest every night a priority.

Tips for Encouraging Your Body to Sleep

When bedtime arrives, make it a point to shut off the lights. Step away from electronics and rest. Too many people get caught up in watching television or checking the Internet late into the evening hours. They view this as downtime. They then end up spending too much time focusing on these tasks. Instead, grab a book or take a bath for downtime in the 30 minutes prior to your bedtime. Make a mental note of when it is time to put everything down and shut your eyes, and set that as your bedtime.

It is also often helpful to avoid caffeine at least an hour or two before bedtime. Some benefit when they minimize caffeine intake throughout the day. Eat a small snack about an hour before bedtime, but avoid consuming a large meal late at night.

Sundowner’s Syndrome and Mismatched Schedules

Sometimes, family caregivers are kept up at night or woken throughout the night because their loved one keeps a different schedule. This is especially true for seniors with dementia who might experience sundowner’s syndrome or simply confuse night and day.

Try to help your loved one develop routines that match yours as closely as possible. Encourage activity during the day and a regular wake-up time in the morning. This gets the body ready for rest at night. If you are not home with them, consider an adult daycare or senior center for socialization. Hiring an in home aide through an agency like Salus Homecare San Fernando Valley is another great option. Finally, if it simply is not possible to make your schedules match up, consider enlisting the help of an overnight respite caregiver. This provides your loved one with reliable support and supervision while you get some much needed sleep.


Getting enough rest is not always just about developing routines and encouraging your loved one to sleep at night. Studies show that as many as two-thirds of dementia caregivers develop insomnia. At times, this is related to anxiety, depression or another mental health disorder. If you are experiencing insomnia and cannot seem to find your way out, see a medical professional as soon as possible. This is the best way to get diagnoses. With a doctor’s help, it is easier to discover if there is any underlying problems causing the insomnia. Next, you can find the treatment and help necessary for health and wellbeing.

Crucial aspects of providing effective care to a loved one with dementia include understanding their condition and how to cope with challenges and acting with patience and compassion during trying times. Sleep helps you to accomplish all of the above. It keeps you healthier and more alert throughout your day. If you are not getting enough rest, take steps to make changes. For more tips about improving care for a loved one with dementia or to get the help you need to support your loved one’s goal of aging in place, call Salus Homecare San Fernando Valley anytime. Our caregivers provide expert assistance, helping you to confidently rest while knowing your loved ones are in the hands of caring, knowledgable professionals.

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