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Family Physician
Family Physician, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 2592
Experience:  Emergency Medicine and Family Practice for over 26 years
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Is sleeping for long hours common in people with dementia?

Customer Question

My husband (almost 75) has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia with progressive aphasia. He is currently under the care of a neurologist and takes Namenda by pill and another medicine by patch daily. I understand the basics of the disease and he is still fairly functional. However, he is sleeping an inordinate number of hours a day. He does not do many activities except any relating to photography -- taking pictures or working on pictures on the computer. He typically goes to bed around 11:00, but because he sleeps late in the morning (10 or so) and takes 1-3 naps during the daytime, he has trouble getting to sleep. Often he reports getting to sleep at 1-2 am. He has sleep apnea but won't use his machine and his activity level needs to increase. But is the sleeping related to the condition? Is this fairly common to his type of dementia?
He takes Toprol, Nexxium, Aricept, Namenda, Tamulosin and Vitamin D. Also Cyclosporine. We both have had to divest the home of animals due to allergies.
One of his hypothalamic is significantly smaller than the other. The neurologist says that could be a recent event or could have happened some time ago. There have been some behavioral changes due to the dementia, and the aphasia is definitely progressing.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. David replied 1 year ago.

His sleepiness can be related to his age and his dementia and related to his naps he is taking in the afternoon.

It can be difficult for someone his age and with his dementia to break the cycle of napping and sleeping late at night time

Many patients who have dementia sometimes feel better at night time and want to stay up later and thus become more fatigued for the next time and then have a harder time falling asleep until late. It can become a vicious cycle.

He should talk to his doctor about medications like Melatonin or other sleep aids he can use before bed to help him become sleepy and sleep better earlier which could help him not to nave to take naps or shorter naps during the day.

He should get his thyroid hormone levels checked as well.

His hypothalamic asymmetry could be part of the cause of his dementia as well

Let me know if you have questions.