Are you aware of the degenerative condition affecting the brain cells called Alzheimer’s disease? It is a type of dementia that affects a patient’s life tremendously. You can see them on TV or in the movies being portrayed as people who lose their memory and ability to speak and think for themselves. Some people may even have first-hand information about this since a loved one already has developed Alzheimer’s. But you may begin to question, why do Alzheimer patients sleep so much? How has this condition impacted their daily activities and their outlook on life?
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
There is a great misunderstanding about the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The reason for the confusion may come from the fact that both conditions target a patient’s memory and thought process. Let us help you clear things out by describing each degenerative issue.
Dementia is the main form of a mental syndrome that affects a person’s memory and way of thinking. It is a syndrome because it is difficult to diagnose, but a cluster of symptoms define it.
Alzheimer’s disease, on the other hand, is the main cause of dementia. This degenerative and irreversible condition targets the brain as it damages the brain cells that affect a person’s memory, behavior, thought process, and even wake/sleep cycle.
So simply put, all Alzheimer’s patients have dementia, but not all patients with dementia have Alzheimer’s.
Stages of Alzheimer’s disease
Not all people who experience memory loss or cognitive dysfunction already has dementia or Alzheimer’s. some people may be developing mild cognitive impairment or MCI. We normally associate memory lapses with age, right? Well, in MCI, patients develop memory problems earlier than expected, but these lapses do not interrupt with their normal activities. Some may also experience problems with movement and smell, but these issues do not necessarily account them to have Alzheimer’s. however, those with MCI may be at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Mild Alzheimer’s disease. This stage may be the most noted stage where patients with Alzheimer’s get diagnosed. They manifest symptoms that are easily correlated to dementia, so Alzheimer’s is easily considered. These may include confusion about certain memorable events, increased incidence of wandering or getting lost within a familiar location, difficulty in performing daily tasks and activities like budgeting and running errands, and even having behavioral or personality disorders.
Moderate Alzheimer’s disease. At this stage, the early symptoms get worse. As the disease progresses, the patient now has additional difficulty in his sensory function, he now develops hallucinations and language impediments. He forgets or has difficulty recognizing close relatives and friends. They also may have difficulty in caring for themselves like dressing up, eating on their own, and going to the toilet.
Severe Alzheimer’s disease. Why do Alzheimer patients sleep so much? This is the stage where the plaques that interrupt the brain function are already scattered, shrinking the brain tissues. All symptoms still present are in their worst forms, until the patient can no longer leave the bed and his body along with his other vital organs shut down.
Why do Alzheimer patients sleep so much?
This concern has been observed for patients suffering from the late stages of Alzheimer’s. The reason for this lies in the state of a patient’s brain. In the late stages of Alzheimer’s, the brain tissues shrink and get surrounded by clogs made up of twisted nerve fibers and protein buildup called amyloid plaques that make it harder for the brain to function. These plaques and twisted fibers interrupt the brain impulses, making the patient weak and unable to move, think, and function overall. This is the main reason why they lack energy and are constantly lying down or sleeping. They even feel tired just thinking, speaking, or eating, so most of the time, you see patients in the late stages of Alzheimer’s to always sleep and rest.
Why do Alzheimer patients sleep so much? There are also some reasons why an Alzheimer’s patient tends to sleep a lot. It has to do with the medications they are taking for their other symptoms. For instance, a patient in the moderate stages of Alzheimer’s tend to have sensory malfunctions, right? This means that they may have the tendency to have auditory or visual hallucinations. They may also feel melancholic at times in their lucid moments whenever they think that they are becoming a burden because of their incapacities. They may also feel tired and sleepy all throughout the day but awake the entire night. These symptoms would prompt their primary care doctor and neurologist to prescribe antipsychotic meds, antidepressant drugs, and yes, sleeping pills. These medications may add up to the patient’s sleepiness and may allow the patient to always be in a slumber.
What to do if Alzheimer’s patients sleep a lot?
This idea of patients sleeping a lot and not performing any activity or physiologic need like eating, drinking, and speaking may alarm both caregivers and relatives. It is understandable to panic or be concerned, especially if you have known these people to have been active most of their lives.
If the patient sleeps a lot but is easily woken if they need to eat or drink their medications, there is no need to get concerned as of the moment, this is just a normal symptom of their disease and we could expect this to get worse over time. Just try and allow him to follow an everyday routine so he can grow accustomed to what he needs to do at a certain time. You can also a good tip to turn off all the lights at night so the patient’s brain gets triggered to sleep.
If the patient chooses to sleep all through the day and this could pose harm to his condition since he would rather snooze than eat or drink, then you must ask his doctor about what steps to take so he does not compromise his health because of his disease’s symptom.
You must also get the attention of the doctor if the patient suddenly develops this abnormal sleeping pattern abruptly. If he was still showing active participation in his daily activities days before but suddenly loses the ability to do so and begins to rest and sleep more, then it may be a sign that his condition is progressing quicker than expected. A different reason for the weakness may also come from a secondary infection that his doctor should look into and treat before it completely puts the patient’s life at risk.