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Sleep Disturbances

Most people with Parkinson’s find it difficult to sleep through the night. Rigid muscles, tremors or stiffness at night, or not being able to roll over in bed can all interfere with sleep, as can the frequent urge to urinate.  In addition, many people with Parkinson’s experience vivid dreams or hallucinations and act out their dreams, violent nightmares, a problem called “REM sleep behavior disorder.” Recent research suggests that REM sleep behavior disorder sometimes begins even before motor symptoms are diagnosed in Parkinson’s.

Medicine, such as clonazepam, is available for this problem. For some people, an extra dose of anti-Parkinson medications or a sleeping medication can help alleviate sleep disturbances. In other cases, sleep disturbances may be caused by medical conditions not related to PD. For example, a disruption in breathing called sleep apnea can also interfere with sleep, and can be treated separately from PD. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for people with Parkinson’s, so if you are having any of these symptoms you should discuss them with your doctor.

Not sleeping well at night often causes people with Parkinson’s to feel drowsy during the day. Anti-Parkinson medications and the disease itself can also contribute to excessive daytime sleepiness. A pattern of falling asleep suddenly for short periods of time, similar to narcolepsy, can interfere with daily life. Adjusting antiparkinson medications, or taking a stimulant during the day—under a doctor’s supervision, of course—may help alleviate sleepiness during the day.

Related Resources from the PD Resource List

National Sleep Foundation: Parkinson's Disease
Category: Non-Motor Symptoms and Complications of Parkinson’s
Resource Type: Websites
Toll Free: (202) 347-3471
Email: nsf@sleepfoundation.org
Associated URL: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/parkinsons-disease-and-sleep
Language: English
This organization offers information on the factors that can affect the quality of sleep. To find information on PD-related sleep problems, treatments and coping strategies, visit the 'Sleep Topics' section of this mostly online resource. Also offered in Spanish, German, and French.

View all Resources Related to Sleep Disturbances, Other Nonmotor Symptoms and Parkinsion's