Picture of an alarm clock and night light

Many people living with dementia have sleep difficulties which can be troublesome for the person affected, their families and carers. Problems can include reduced and or disturbed sleep, nighttime awakening, wandering and excessive napping during the day. There are currently no effective treatments to help.

Aim of the study

Researchers from University College London (UCL) – with funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) – are examining if DREAMS: START (Dementia Related Manual for Sleep; Strategies for Relatives) can reduce the sleep difficulties experienced by people living with dementia.

Chief Investigator Doctor Penny Rapaport, Clinical Psychologist, UCL says;

Sleep is an essential function that allows the body and mind to recharge and a good night’s sleep is particularly important for the wellbeing of people living with dementia.

We want to test whether the DREAMS START intervention can help reduce the sleep difficulties that people living with dementia experience and to reduce the distress that sleep disturbances can result in. Through the use of practical support, we will look at whether simple changes can help improve sleep and the impact this can have on their day-to-day life.

What will happen if I take part?

Researchers will visit study participants and during this meeting, the participants will be asked a series of questions about sleeping habits, health and current levels of help received.

All participants will be provided with a smartwatch. The watch measures movement and how much light the person receives.

After one week of wearing the watch, the researcher will divide the participants into two groups; one group will receive the intervention called ‘DREAMS START’, the others will continue with their usual care.

Contributions to the research from both groups are equally important so comparisons can be made.

Those participants who are offered DREAMS START intervention will meet with a researcher six times to discuss sleeping difficulties, and suggestions will be made on how to better manage sleep.

Researchers will visit both groups after four and then eight months to repeat the initial questionnaires and participants will be asked to wear the smartwatch again for a week each time.

Why take part?

The study aims to understand whether people living at home with dementia are sleeping better eight months after DREAMS START and whether the help and or support has made a difference to their lives. If successful the researchers will look to share the sleep strategies more widely.

Who can take part?

The study is looking for people living with a diagnosis of dementia (any type/severity) who are experiencing problems with their sleep.

Participants need to be living in their own home with someone present at night and have a family carer who supports the person with dementia at least weekly.

This study is currently recruiting initially across London, North Yorkshire, Tees Esk & Wear Valley and Sussex but please do keep checking your Join Dementia Research account as this may be extended.

It is open until 31 December 2022 and is funded by the National Institute for Health Research.

To find out if you are eligible to join this study, as well as other dementia studies, sign in to your Join Dementia Research account or if you are not already registered, sign up today.