Why are people with dementia attracted to staying up all night and sleeping all day?

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I am tired of the term 'sundowners' and suggestions of lighting and scheduling. Habits are developed by learning, or appeal. They must find something appealing about staying up all night, in the early stages of dementia. What are the fears then of the daytime hours? My mother knows who the family is and the difference between night and day, although "I had no idea it was so late!" is a common statement. Yet she continues to sleep from dawn until dusk, after piddling around the kitchen. We have gone on trips, and managed to "reschedule" her routine fairly easily, for that period. She will go to bed at a reasonable hour and wake up with the rest of us. Upon coming home, however it isn't long before she reverts back to staying up all night. There has to be something other than a screwed up internal clock, or confusing night and day. Certainly someone can postulate as to "why" and not just tell this is part and parcel of dementia/Alzheimers, and leave it at that.

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My mum hasnt done this yet but she takes a sleeping pill every night although she is getting up to pee alot more?
Mum goes to bed at midnight and gets up at noon which is causing huge problems for her diabetes as shes fasting too much and her mood swings are getting worse.
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My grandma has alzheimers I moved in with her to care for her fulltime. I have the same issue, she is nocturnal and sometimes can go 48-72 hours without any sleep. She believes she is going on holiday with the queen she packs all of her clothes and just waits at the window. I manage to get her in bed but within an hour shes back up and dressed :( it is worse of a nightime but recently its happening through the day also. She is on the highest dose of amitripyline but she seems immune almost now. Its very hard and draining and the doctor always states it is part and parcel of the disease. Infact as I speak she is packing more bags and having a full blown conversation with herself. Patience is the key but we're only human and naturally find it tiresome and challenging at times. Horrid disease x
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To RCW6532: I beg to differ, but it is part of dementia, their timing of day and night can be confused due to changes in their chemical makeup. I am not an expert but my mother has tried to get my dad to go to bed at a normal time, which he does, but to only get up about 1/2 hour later and start wandering around (sundowning), if she gets up to address the issue, he gets mad/upset and its not worth her to fight with him. so it does have some things to do with dementia. if they don't do it in a nursing home, thats because they probably sedate them.
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It is not part of having dementia. Not at all. I think you are the one that has to set her hours. If you allow her to stay up all night and sleep all day then that will be the way it is it seems. If that is not convenient for you and your family then you have to just get her up early and stick to it and she will adjust to those hours. Possibly a trip to the doctor can help with some meds to help her sleep in the beginning. And "sundowning" has nothing to do with sleeping habits.
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I worked nights and appreciated the quietness of stores, no one there, enjoyed the quietness of my days, but taking care of someone on top of that that also stayed up at night, oh no way...my only experience was when my 87 year old was jacked up on breathing treatments, thank God she pretend reads in bed, no wandering yet...
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Very good point, Eddie. Less distraction at night is something to look at. But, for those who wander off, hide things, & for those w/ sun downing symptoms, I'd say it's is definitely NOT a good time to be unsupervised. If the care-giver has to stay up at night, how is he/she supposed to take care of this person all day & all night AND go to work on time AND care for his/her kids, take all to drs. appts., etc....etc...?:
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I am also a nightowl. I always have been. I function much better at night for some reason. I find I can barely function at all during the day anymore but am ready to roll during the dusk to dawn phase. Maybe a large part of it is that is when I finally have things settled down around the house and Mama is able to sleep, but that is when I am wide awake....I guess everyone is just different.
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I'm 54, "sane," and function better at night; when most of the Bronx is asleep. Without those worldly distractions, I actually enjoy reading, watching Lifetime movies, raiding the fridge whenever I want to. Don't have to answer to anyone if I feel like strolling down to the nearest pub at midnight. My ex used to nag about why I can't go to bed like a "normal" person. ... She had to go.

Instead of trying to figure out what's "wrong" with someone else, let's put ourselves in his/her shoes; and take it from there.
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I think pamstegman and gerojohnson have the correct answers. I do think part of it is fear as well. When we are sick even with flu we may feel better during the day but come evening and night we seem to feel worse, it is because everyone is asleep and God forbid anything happen, no one is awake to know. Now that I have developed severe panic and anxiety, I have noticed some of the same exact things like getting nervous come evening that Mom was suffering with...sundowners. I get nervous, I want to go to sleep but there are so many things that seem to need to be done first or things I need to tell others, maybe in case I die or have some "attack" during the night? I don't know for sure but I have found out what it is like from the "other side."
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I have found a similar pattern with my mom, but if woken too early she is extremely surly and just wants to go back to bed. Other times I think it's just easier for her to lay there.
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