Michele's Blog

Sleep Disorders In Immobile Patients

By Michele Scott

Thanks to cognitive behavioral therapy prominent advances, supported by new scientific research have been made in the area of sleep disorders in home-bound patients. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of therapy whereby the client and therapist work together to address the patient’s primary issues. Therapists concentrate on the patients emotions, feelings, thoughts and behavioral patterns.

Care must be taken in working with home-bound / immobile patients cared for by family members. Immediate family can unknowingly contribute to a patient’s sleep disorder and the success or failure of the therapy sessions. This becomes evident in assessing and diagnosing patients, and results of “home sleep tests.” 

In diagnosing sleep disorders patients undergo a sleep study or polysomnography usually done in a lab setting. Travel can be inconvenient, costly or impossible for the immobile patient. The Home Sleep Tests allows the patient to spend the night in their own bed in familiar surroundings. Home Sleep Tests remain the sleep disorder test of choice for the elderly, dementia, Alzheimer’s and chronically ill patient.  

Symptoms of Sleep Disorders range from sleeping throughout the day, to dozing off when sitting, eating or watching television, feeling tired, using caffeine to stay awake and emotional roller-coasting.  “Common -- and normal -- sleep problems, which plague up to 40% of the elderly, include light sleep, frequent waking, and daytime fatigue. There is also a decrease in the deep-sleep stage and an increase in periods of wakefulness during the night.” Research shows about half of immobile patients who report problems sleeping are prescribed medication; particularly those with other mental or behavioral disorders. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the drug free treatment of choice once diagnosis has been made and underlying health conditions have been ruled out.


The NLM’s (the United States National Library of Medicine) reports: “ Sleep disturbances are common among dementia caregivers. Studies over the past 15 years have reported that approximately two-thirds of older adult caregivers have some form of sleep disturbance. Caregiver sleep problems are often presumed to be linked to nighttime behaviors in the care-recipient. Obviously, if a person with dementia is awake and roaming around the house at night, this behavior impacts the caregiver’s sleep as well. In fact, research shows that care-recipient sleep disturbances are one of the most common reasons cited for moving a family member with dementia into an institutional setting. Estimates suggest that there are more than 10 million adult caregivers of persons with dementia, two-thirds of who experience some form of sleep disturbance during the course of their caregiving career.”

For many sleep disorders can be lessened by improving proper sleep routines. Sticking to a regular bedtime, establishing bedtime rituals, stretching (as much as possible), introducing a cup of hot tea or a glass of warm water. Healthy sleep patterns are important for the patient and the caregiver. Home Helpers Home Care can help. Call us.