Dementia behavioural and psychiatric symptoms: Effect on caregiver's sleep

Cherie Simpson, Patricia Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Aims and objectives: To examine caregiver sleep quality, especially in relation to the daytime and night-time behaviours and psychological symptoms exhibited by persons with dementias. Background: Caregivers of persons with dementias experience poorer sleep in comparison with noncaregivers, and poor sleep is related to negative health outcomes. The reasons for caregivers' poor sleep are complex, and it is known that the night-time behaviours of the persons with dementia contribute to caregiver sleep disruption. However, the frequency of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia has hitherto not been sufficiently explored as a contributing factor to poor caregiver sleep. Design: A nonexperimental cross-sectional design. Methods: Eighty caregivers completed questionnaires on the frequency of behavioural and psychological symptoms of the persons with dementia, the Dementia Severity Rating Scale, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Results: Poor sleep was reported with awakenings by the persons with dementia occurring for more than half of the caregivers. The frequency of behaviours and symptoms did not make a unique contribution to the variance of caregivers' global sleep. The frequency of behaviours, and specifically of agitation and apathy, contributed to the variance in subjective sleep quality, as defined by the caregivers' appraisal of their sleep. Conclusions: The findings demonstrate the relationship between (1) daytime and night-time behaviours of persons with dementias and (2) their caregivers' sleep quality and emphasise the complexity of the factors that contribute to caregiver sleep quality. Relevance to clinical practice: These findings suggest that nurses should be cognizant of the relationship between daytime behaviours of the persons with dementia and the caregivers' appraisal of their sleep, realising that appraising one's sleep as poor can be a contributing factor to perpetuating sleep problems. Interventions aimed at helping the caregiver manage the persons with dementia's agitation or the caregiver's emotional response to persons with dementia apathy may improve caregivers' perception of their sleep.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3042-3052
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number21-22
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavioural and psychological symptoms
  • Caregiving
  • Dementia
  • Sleep quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


Dive into the research topics of 'Dementia behavioural and psychiatric symptoms: Effect on caregiver's sleep'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this