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Sleep problems and Parkinson's

Koki Patel who has Parkinson's getting to sleep
People with Parkinson's can experience sleep problems that may be caused by Parkinson's itself or by Parkinson's medication.

They can also have sleep problems that affect those without the condition too, such as insomnia.

If you care for someone with Parkinson's, you may also have sleep problems.

How can sleep problems affect people?

Some of the problems you may experience are:

  • difficulty turning over in bed
  • feeling very sleepy during the day
  • vivid nightmares and sleepwalking
  • nocturia (waking up at night needing to go to the toilet)
  • sleep apnoea (stopping breathing for a moment during sleep)
  • restless legs
  • pain when medication wears off during the night

It is important to see your GP, specialist or Parkinson's nurse if you experience problems with sleeping at night or you fall asleep during the day. Sleep problems can be dangerous if you drive or operate machinery.

Insomnia

People with Parkinson’s can be more prone to insomnia because of Parkinson's symptoms, such as restless legs. Some Parkinson's medication may also keep you awake at night.

What can help with sleep problems?

I find that getting out of bed when I can't sleep and only going back when I feel tired helps.

Kendo, Parkinson's UK online forum user

Improving sleep hygiene can help with sleep problems. This means doing things such as reducing noise and light in your bedroom and having a regular bedtime.

Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine (found in tea, coffee and some fizzy drinks) before you go to bed may also help.

What treatments are available?

Adjusting your Parkinson's medication may help. Your GP or Parkinson's nurse may also suggest stopping sedatives or stimulant drugs.

Sleep problems can also be helped by treating mental health issues, such as depression.