Everyone has experienced sleep deprivation, whether from jet lag, a crying new baby, pain, etc. The issue with the person having dementia and sleep problems is that they cannot reason through to the cause. From our own experience suffering from the lose of sleep, we can only imagine how sleep problems affect the the person with dementia. Increasing not only their fatigue but also confusion. Dementia and sleep problems can lead to falls, anger issues and sever decline in cognition.

Over the counter medications for insomnia should be avoided.  There are much safer methods such as melatonin and magnesium supplements.

Magnesium: the reason there as so many forms of magnesium is because it must be bound to another substance – and that substance will greatly affect the availability and absorption of the magnesium. Poor choices of magnesium supplements are oxide, sulfate, carbonate, citrate and sulfate. Several of these will be responsible for gastric distress and often diarrhea.

Better choices for magnesium are glycinate that is known for being very bio-available and good for absorption. A very good choice for the person with dementia and sleep problems is magnesium taurate because of it’s calming properties.

The most expensive form and more difficult to obtain is magnesium threonate, which is recommended in the book The End of Alzheimer’s for it’s added benefit of improving cognition. The book also recommends several other easily obtained supplements, as well as melatonin.

What everyone agrees on is that being sleep deprived causes problems for the healthiest individual. For the person with dementia, sleep problems can cause a major decline in cognition and frequently leads to leaving home and living in a healthcare facility.

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing