Keith Vossel, MD: What Is Sundown Syndrome? Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

Dr. Keith Vossel

"Late afternoons and evenings may be especially difficult for people with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Research suggests approximately 19% of people with dementia experience sundown syndrome, or sundowning, a group of symptoms or behaviors including agitation, restlessness and confusion that can occur as the daylight begins to fade.

Fortunately, there are ways to cope with sundown syndrome. Read on to learn more about sundown syndrome, including its symptoms, causes and risk factors, treatment options and expert tips on how to manage the condition.

What Is Sundown Syndrome (or Sundowning)?

“Sundowning refers to a sense of [increased confusion and changes in behavior] that can occur in people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias toward the end of the day,” explains Keith Vossel, M.D., a professor of neurology and director of the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Care at UCLA in California.

Sundowning generally begins in the late afternoon as the sun begins to set and continues into the night. However, it can occur at any time. Sundowning most commonly affects individuals in the middle and later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, and the condition can make it difficult for those affected to get enough sleep.

“Sundowning can affect an individual’s memory, thinking, personality, reasoning and mood, causing symptoms like sadness, anxiety, fear, agitation, restlessness and irritability. It can also lead to other mental states, such as paranoia, delusions and hallucinations,” says Alvaro Pascual-Leone, M.D., a cognitive neurologist and dementia specialist and professor in neurology at Harvard Medical School."

Read more in Forbes Health.