A treatment for sleep disorders in dementia?

This paper investigates the feasibility and acceptability of a six-session non-pharmacological therapy for people with dementia who have disturbed sleep.  The authors conclude that the ‘DREAMS-START’ intervention for sleep disorders in dementia is both feasible and acceptable | International Psychogeriatrics | via The Mental Elf

In people with dementia, symptoms such as agitation and inappropriate behaviour are fairly well known for being difficult to cope with. What is less well known is that people with dementia often sleep badly. They may wander, putting themselves at risk, and being awake at night then tends to make them sleepy during the day. This sleep disruption can cause a lot of stress for their carers.

Available treatments for this problem do not appear to be very effective. The current study tests a new intervention called DREAMS-START (Dementia RElAted Manual for Sleep; STrAtegies for RelaTives), which is delivered to carers over six sessions to help them cope with and improve sleep problems.

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Abstract

Background:40% of people with dementia have disturbed sleep but there are currently no known effective treatments. Studies of sleep hygiene and light therapy have not been powered to indicate feasibility and acceptability and have shown 40–50% retention. We tested the feasibility and acceptability of a six-session manualized evidence-based non-pharmacological therapy; Dementia RElAted Manual for Sleep; STrAtegies for RelaTives (DREAMS-START) for sleep disturbance in people with dementia.

Methods:

We conducted a parallel, two-armed, single-blind randomized trial and randomized 2:1 to intervention: Treatment as Usual. Eligible participants had dementia and sleep disturbances and a family carer and were recruited from two London memory services and Join Dementia Research. Participants wore an actiwatch for two weeks pre-randomization. Trained, clinically supervised psychology graduates delivered DREAMS-START to carers randomized to intervention; covering Understanding sleep and dementia; Making a plan (incorporating actiwatch information, light exposure using a light box); Daytime activity and routine; Difficult night-time behaviors; Taking care of your own (carer’s) sleep; and What works? Strategies for the future. Carers kept their manual, light box, and relaxation recordings post-intervention. Outcome assessment was masked to allocation. The co-primary outcomes were feasibility and acceptability.

Results:

In total, 63 out of 95 eligible referrals consented  62 were randomized, and 37 out of 42  adhered to the intervention.

Conclusions:

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