Retired senior man sleeping on bed by alarm clock at home
(Credit: Maskot / Getty Images)

Too much noise can keep many people up at night. But a new audible treatment program could provide the “right” mix of noise to help lock in better sleep patterns for a cohort who needs it most: older adults living with dementia.

Irregular and poor sleep is common among seniors, and unfortunately, poor sleep quality is both a cause and a symptom for dementia. It can create a major challenge for senior living providers, such as memory care communities, who serve residents who have dementia.

Older adults living with dementia showed significant improvements in both daytime drowsiness and overall sleep quality following a “sonic sound” therapy program, the result of a partnership between Garden Spot Village’s Meadow View memory care residence and tech startup Composure. The companies announced the promising findings last week. 

Although the term connotes something intense, sonic sound treatment merely means any method that uses auditory cues to try and stimulate better sleep methods, one study explains.

The description of Composure’s sound program was a little vague, but the treatment appears to be a highly personalized, customizable mix of calming sounds or white noise that can cue bedtime and eliminate environmental distractions, the company’s website states.

“As we age, getting a good night’s sleep becomes more and more of a challenge,” Composure CEO Jeff McSpadden said in a statement. “It’s difficult for most older adults to get the rest they need, and when dementia is added to the mix, it can often seem impossible. We wondered if using curated sounds as an environmental stimulus could be used to support the entire sleep cycle.”

In addition to better sleep quality, the residents at Garden Spot Village who received the treatment demonstrated greater cognition and “minimized behavioral symptoms,” the company described, meaning they were less at risk for falling emergencies, possibly the greatest secondary effect of older adults’ poor sleep.

The improved abilities and habits of residents who received the sound treatment not only helped them, but also reduced burnout and stressful interventions among staff and caregivers, Garden Spot Village noted.