Daylight savings and Dementia

     Daylights savings has happened! Although, we lost an hour of sleep, this morning, I am thrilled that mornings will be dimmer and the evenings brighter and longer! However, as a nurse, I dwell on what this may mean for patients, particularly those with dementia.

     As we set the clocks forward and relish in the fact that it means warmer days are coming, it also means that, for our dementia patients, it comes with a change in schedule and routine. Maintaining consistent sleep patterns is important for people with dementia, and sudden changes, in their schedule, can worsen their symptoms such as increased confusion or irritability. It is therefoe imperative  to provide increased care and attention.

     According to, "the biggest problem that older individuals have with daylight saving time is loss of sleep." {} "Sleep fragmentation is already typical among older adults—particularly those who have chronic health conditions," says Sharon Roth-Maguire, M.S., R.N., senior vice president of quality and clinical operations for BrightStar Care, a home health agency. "Even small changes in sleep patterns can have significant consequences for senior health."

      We know that light plays a key role in our circadian rhythm, and our "natural clock" must adjust, as morning shifts to noon, noon shifts to evening, evening shifts to night, and night shifts back to morning. This usually causes people to feel tired, as the day goes on, either from exhaustion or too much stimulation. This is even more true for people with dementia. "Matthew Mingrone, M.D., lead physician for EOS Sleep California centers, adds that disrupting a senior's natural biological rhythms may also cause an increase in disorientation and erratic behavior." (

Tips for caregivers of dementia patients:

  • Try to expose the patient to as much daylight as possible
  • Engage him or her while the sun is setting.
  • Keep the home well lit after dark
  • Keep the sleep schedule as close as possible.
  • Keep  routines on schedule. 

BE PATIENT!  It takes the average adult several days for the body and mind to adjust to daylight savings. Take into consideration that a change in the daylight cycle can cause even more confusion for those with dementia.


1 comment

  • Great post! I don’t think people consider the impact daylight savings might have on those with dementia. Thank you for sharing simple and practical tips that can be implemented for this population.

    Lea Taty

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