On the 31st March 2019, we will “spring forward” for daylight saving time by turning our clocks forward an hour. By resetting the clocks for spring we can take advantage of more light in the evening, a welcome sight for most. However, this change can have an adverse affect on a person living with Sundowners syndrome. Sundowning is a term used for the changes in behaviour that occur in the evening, around dusk. Some people who have been diagnosed with dementia experience a growing sense of agitation or anxiety at this time.
How does the time change affect Sundowning?
People tend to feel tired and overwhelmed as the day progresses, either from over stimulation or exhaustion. With the additional hour of daylight, essential routines can be thrown out of sync. These changes can result in the person becoming more tired, with heightened behaviour and mood changes.
What can be done?
Stick to a routine: Dementia can make it hard to develop and remember new routines. Try and stick to the same schedule every day. If this is not possible try to adjust the routine gradually to minimise feelings of stress and confusion.
Keep active: Day time naps and inactivity can make it harder to sleep at night. If possible, go out for a walk. The natural light will help regulate the body’s natural rhythm and the exercise will help with sleep.
Monitor eating and drinking habits: Limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol a person has throughout the day. Having a light meal in the evening can also help the person to sleep better.
Ease into night-time: Close the curtains and turn the lights on before dusk begins. This will ease the transition into night-time.
More information can be found at https://www.dementiauk.org/understanding-dementia/advice-and-information/changes-in-behaviour/sundowning/