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My mother goes through increasingly disturbing sleep cycles for the past few years, worsening lately now that her dementia has significantly progressed. She will sleep fine for a few nights, then not sleep at all (for the most part) for the next 3 nights. This same cycle repeats week after week, and is now getting to the point where she is SO agitated that she stays in her room all day long after a sleepless night. The nurse told me that even though mother complains of not sleeping at all, when she's checked on during the night, she IS asleep sometimes, at least for a short while. In her mind, she is not sleeping 'at all' and tells me she didn't sleep for even 5 minutes all night long. On Wednesday night, it was 'the worst it's ever been', then on Thursday night, it was 'even worse than Wednesday night, NEVER this bad.' And on and on.


Has anyone had a parent with this issue, and if so, were sleeping pills prescribed? If so, which ones? Mom has always had sleep issues, and was taking Ambien for a few years; wound up breaking her foot while using the bathroom in the middle of the night (this was in her pre-dementia days), so the medication had to be discontinued. I know the doctors are leery to prescribe sedatives or sleep aids with dementia.


Any advice? Melatonin doesn't work, switching the Gabapentin from day to night dose does not help, nothing seems to break this 'cycle' she's on.

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It sounds like your mom suffering from sun downers which is common with dementia. We are currently working with my mother’s physician to find a solution to help her sleep and not wander through facility at night. We learned Ambien may help with sleep but can trigger delusions with dementia users. We also tried trazadone, which is helping with anxiety but not sleep. The doctor’s concern is treating sleep disorder with a medication that may cause harm to disease progression in another way. Speak to mom’s doctor to aide towards a solution.
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Reply to Kitty19
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She's in Memory Care as of June. The sleeplessness isn't new, but the DEGREE of it is. She doesn't get up from bed without help....shes wheelchair bound. There is also a bed alarm that triggers if she tries, and help comes right away. She saw the NP 2 weeks ago who switched Gabapentin from AM to PM, but that was it. She'll be seeing the doc next week and I'll be speaking to her as well. Just wondering if others have been down this road and what may have helped?
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Reply to lealonnie1
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Your poor mom needs some help but this is a medical question appropriate for her doctor. Getting up at night is a major cause of falls in the elderly, so hopefully a doc can help her. If you're not getting solutions that work, find another doc if possible. Is she in a NH? Or in her/your home?
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Reply to Geaton777
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