Alzheimer’s Insights: Time change affects those with Alzheimer’s

Published 12:48 pm Saturday, November 6, 2021

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Scott Finley

Daylight Saving Time will come to an official end at 2 AM on Sunday, November 7, 2021 when we set our clocks to “fall back” one hour. Of course, nobody sits up to do it at that time; we turn our clocks back before we go to sleep on Saturday night, or we do it in a panic on Sunday morning!  The net result of this exercise is that we gain an extra hour of sleep. However, if you have friends and family in Arizona and Hawaii, these states do not observe this clock manipulation.

Let’s look at research about the relationship between sleep issues and dementia risk.

  • Sleep apnea may cause Alzheimer’s-related masses to build up in your brain and increase your risk for memory problems.
  • Regular healthy sleep may help your brain clean itself of dementia-causing lesions.
  • More frequent use of sleep medications may be associated with higher risk of dementia.
  • Research suggests that poor sleep habits in mid- and late-life may increase the risk for developing dementia.

Sleep disturbances are common among people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, including changes in sleep schedule and restlessness/wandering during the night. It has been reported that up to 45% of people with dementia may have sleep problems. Many people with Alzheimer’s wake up more often and stay awake longer during the night. Those who cannot sleep may wander, be unable to lie still, or yell or call out, disrupting the sleep of their caregivers. Experts estimate that in late stages of Alzheimer’s, individuals spend about 40% of their time in bed at night awake and a significant part of their daytime sleeping. This makes their lives more stressful and exhausting, but there are effective ways for caregivers to manage sleep issues.

If you have questions, call the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 helpline at 800-272-3900 for more information.

Meanwhile, you can always get the latest information about the Association’s COVID-19 guidelines for Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in long-term or community-based care settings here:


The Alzheimer’s Association leads the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia – by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. Visit or call 800.272.3900.


Scott Finley is Media Relations Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association® in Texas.  He can be reached at