Tijdschrift voor gerontologie en geriatrie vol:33 issue:1 pages:15-20
Insomnia and fragmentation are features of the sleep of these patients. In order to list the factors disturbing the sleep of demented nursing home patients and the interventions improving their sleep quality, the literature was reviewed. A Medline search over the period 1966-2000 was performed. This resulted in 22 research articles. Admission to a nursing home is associated with sleep disturbances caused by patient problems (e.g. pain), care routines (e.g. nightly nursing round) and environment (e.g. noise). There are indications that the use of hypnotics in nursing home patients is not always effective and increases the risk of falls. There are several ways to reduce hypnotic consumption in nursing homes. Non-pharmacological interventions to decrease sleep disturbances caused by environmental factors have a favourable although weak effect on sleep itself. By reducing nightly noise, sleep quality does not necessarily improve. Light therapy seems to be the most effective non-pharmacological method to strengthen the circadian sleep/wake rhythm. The struggle against insomnia without using medication perhaps requires a two tracks management: detection and elimination of disturbing environmental factors and implementation of an adequate method to strengthen the circadian sleep/wake rhythm.