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How The Sleep Kit Could Help People With Dementia Get A Better Night’s Sleep

The Sleep Kit. Image: Submitted, Allie Beckwith.

FREDERICTON- An entrepreneur out of Fredericton is offering a solution to help those suffering from dementia get a better night’s sleep.

Eve Baird is the creator of The Sleep Kit, a curated box of products that are believed to help people with dementia improve their quality of sleep.

Eve Baird, the founder of The Sleep Kit. Image: TheSleepKit.org.

The idea for Sleep Kit came during Baird’s time studying gerontology at St. Thomas University.

“During my time there I took a course on aging and health and we had to do some research on an issue related to aging and health and then come up with an innovative solution,” says Baird. “I looked into dementia and found that sleep disturbances were a huge problem for these individuals.”

The limited research done around the issue has suggested things like exercise, diet, light therapy and medication to treat sleep disturbances in dementia patients. But Baird found another treatment route that caught her interest.

“One study I came across looked at how keeping people engaged throughout the day helped them sleep, which makes sense. If people are in long term care and they’re engaged, they are going to be more tired and sleep better at night. That really resonates with me, so I created the Sleep Kit,” she says.

“I’ve worked in long-term care for the past three years with people living with dementia, so The Sleep Kit items are inspired by things that I’ve tried with these individuals and had successes with.”

Retailing at $139.99, items in the Sleep Kit include a book, a herbal pillow, an essential oil, a colouring book with markers, a hairbrush, lotion, playing cards, a hand mirror, a reflection booklet, tea, and a therapeutic CD. The items can be used in a variety of ways the person and/or their caregiver sees fit.

“It’s about creating an atmosphere, providing people with a routine. It’s also a form of self-care for the caregiver and the person living with dementia because this product is supposed to be aimed at both people and be a reciprocal activity between two people,” says Baird.

Some of the items included in The Sleep Kit. Image: Submitted, Allie Beckwith.

With the help from her professor, Janet Durkee-Lloyd, Baird tested out The Sleep Kit at York Care Centre last year. Baird received a $50,000 award from the Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation for the study, which was then matched by the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation.

They recruited 41 participants and partners for the study and the feedback was largely positive. The results showed The Sleep Kit intervention decreased the number of restless bouts for the majority of the participants in long-term care.

“Participants wore FitBits to track their sleep and people in long-term care experienced three fewer periods of restlessness after the intervention of the sleep kit,” says Baird. “We also had people fill out the sleep diary which comes in the kit … and a lot of caregivers in the community and long-term care also used it as a diary for their day, because those things are important too to look at. If that person went for a long walk that morning, they might sleep better. It was a nice way to record in the journal.”

Baird says she’s pleased with the study’s results.

“That study has been amazing because I was able to validate this and see that there’s a need and that it’s helpful for people. It’s been awesome,” she says.

The Sleep Kit officially launched last week and is sold exclusively online.

“I have thought about retail. I’m just not sure where this kind of product will work,” says Baird. “I thought about the gift shop in the hospital or pharmacies, but I think right now, I’m going to try and do online and see how that goes first.”

Baird hopes The Sleep Kit will help both people with dementia and their caregivers alike.

“I really hope this will help people. I’m very passionate about the topic. Working in long-term care, I met so many amazing people both the residents themselves and their families and just how resilient and strong these people are,” she says. “But I also see that there’s not a lot of tangible resources and things that are geared especially for this population … I wanted to provide that for people, a tangible and accessible routine.”