People who have Parkinson's disease (PD) usually have to deal with a range of symptoms that can make day-to-day tasks difficult. Among these is sleep, which is one of our most basic needs. For people with PD, sleep can be disrupted and hard to achieve. Often, those with PD have sleep problems that are caused by the disease itself. Medicines used to treat or help the person with PD may cause sleep problems, as well.

Sleep problems associated with PD usually include an inability to fall asleep, difficulty in staying asleep, uncomfortable sensations in the legs at night (a condition known as restless legs syndrome), and nightmares. In addition, people with PD may act out dreams, perhaps leading to accidents or injuries. Daytime drowsiness also can be a problem.

If you are encountering any of these symptoms, never take over-the-counter sleeping medicines to help the problem without first consulting your doctor. Some over-the-counter and prescription medicines cause or worsen sleep problems, and some of them have serious drug interactions with PD medications.

What can I do to help my sleep problem?

Because the sleep disturbance might be caused by other medicines that are being prescribed to cope with PD, you should consult your doctor about possible alternative medicines that could be used instead that will not interfere with sleep.

A sleep disturbance might also indicate depression in a person who has PD. Depression might bring on fatigue, a changed level of physical and social activity, and a tendency to not sleep soundly or not at all. If these problems persist, you should discuss them with your doctor.

Following are some tips to promote more restful sleep:

  • Avoid stimulants, such as caffeine, within six hours of bed time.
  • Keep a regular routine regarding sleep times and getting up in the morning.
  • Do not take long naps during the day.
  • Take part in activities that keep you physically busy.
  • Avoid using your bedroom for activities other than sleeping. Go elsewhere for activities like reading, watching television, or working.
  • Remedies such as a massage or an expression of affection might also help an individual feel better, perhaps resulting in better sleep.

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