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Sleep Changes and Alzheimer’s Disease: July 3, 2019

Misplacing things, forgetfulness, and confusion—they can be some of the most obvious signs of early onset Alzheimer’s disease—but doctors say there are other signs that can start earlier. “There is an association between Alzheimer’s and sleeps disturbances,” said Dr. Jose Colon, a sleep medicine physician with Lee Health.

It’s normal for a patient’s sleep patterns to change as the disease progresses. “You can’t make an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s based on sleep patterns but definitely when someone has disruptive sleep patterns you want to keep an eye on that,” he said.

Circadian rhythm tells the body when to sleep and when to wake up. Alzheimer’s disease can cause people to develop circadian rhythm disorders, which can affect the body’s internal clock and disrupt sleep patterns. “It’s known that obstructive sleep apnea can cause cognition problems. So an important thing is if you’re evaluated for memory concerns is to have sleep apnea ruled out because that could be contributing to memory problems,” said Dr. Colon.

He encourages patients to maintain a regular sleep schedule. “You have to emphasize even more a good wake up time so you can have better regular sleep times at night,” Dr. Colon said.

Addressing sleep disturbances can help patients get the treatment they need and offer them a better quality of life.


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