Sleep


At one time or another, everyone has trouble getting a good night’s sleep. However, if you’re a person with  Parkinson’s, you might frequently experience fatigue and lack of sleep as part of your condition.

There could be many reasons for this: a sleep disorder, anxiety, depression, an overuse of stimulants like caffeine or nicotine, problems with your medication, daytime sleepiness. If you can, schedule a nap at the same time every afternoon - it will rest your muscles,relieve tension and aches and “recharge your battery.” Make sure it’s no longer than an hour so it won’t interfere with your overnight sleep.

Why is sleep so important to a person with Parkinson's?

You and your caregiver can help your doctor figure out what’s causing your insomnia by keeping a record of your sleep habits for a few weeks. Here are some things you can keep track of and discuss: During the day, do you fall asleep before or during your mid-day or evening meal … with company … watching television … riding in the car … when you start reading? At night, do you take something to help you sleep … go to bed after midnight … take an hour or more to fall asleep … wake up more than once … wake up often to urinate ... get less than two to four hours sleep … wake up for the day before 4 a.m.? Are you groggy when you’re awake and when you wake up?

Share your observations with your doctor and listen to any advice he/she gives. Pay attention to any strategies that work for you. The following simple guide of Sleep Do’s and Don’ts may also help you wake refreshed each morning.

Regular Routine 
- go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Keep your routine the same on weekends or holidays
- eat properly and maintain a healthy weight

The Bedroom
- maintain a comfortable temperature and keep the room quiet
- use a night light to prevent falls if you have to get up in the middle of the night

The Bed
- make sure it has a firm mattress and is high enough so you can sit comfortably
- use a soft pillow which can be positioned for greater comfort
- cover yourself with light bedcovers and wear loose-fitting pajamas or nightgown
- sleep on your side - try putting a small soft pillow between your knees if you have a sore back or hips
- sleep in the bed - limit television watching or reading while in bed
- get separate beds if it will help you and your partner get a good night’s sleep or consider separate covers if you share
a bed

Exercise
- do some sort of physical exercise early in the day - gardening, walking, housekeeping, swimming or other sports
- spend some time outdoors every day to get some fresh air
- avoid strenuous exercise for at least two hours before you go to bed

Eating and Drinking
-only drink stimulants like coffee and tea early in the day. If you drink alcohol consider cutting back
- avoid liquids after 7 p.m. to limit bathroom trips during the night
- don’t go to bed hungry - have a light snack, preferably something easy to digest. Eat your main meal earlier in
the day

Avoid These Things
- hot showers before bed - opt for a lukewarm bath instead
- smoking - cut down on your smoking, especially in the evening

Personal Medication Record
Keep an accurate, up-to-date list of the medications you take. Make sure your health care team has a copy. This will ensure new medication or dosages will not interfere with your sleep schedule/patterns. Using the same pharmacy outlet all the time ensures they have a record of all your medication. 

What if I just can’t sleep?
- get out of bed and go to another room. Sit quietly, try to read a book or magazine, eat a small snack
- when you start feeling tired, go back to bed. If you still can’t sleep after 15 or 20 minutes, repeat the process until you fall asleep
- your doctor may prescribe something to help you sleep. Taking sleep medication, if properly prescribed, may improve response to your medication and allow you to function better
- Don’t ignore sleep problems. Talk to your doctor if sleep medications are not effective. He/she may refer you to a sleep specialist who treats sleep disorders

 

Why is sleep so important to a person with Parkinson’s?

Being well rested means you will ... be able to better manage your symptoms... get maximum benefit from your drug therapy ... perhaps experience a ‘sleep benefit’ - a period when you’re symptom-free after waking ... enjoy your daily activities.