Parkinson’s Disease and Sleeping with the Enemy

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

by Sherri Woodbridge |

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Sleep disturbances

Sherri Journeying Through
My first few years after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s were crazy — trying to get the timing of the drugs right, the dosages, the amounts, dealing with side effects.

Looking back, I think one of the most frustrating aspects of the drugs was how sleepy they made me. But because of Parkinson’s, when everyone else was laying their head on soft pillows at night, dozing into blissful moments of deep sleep and dreaming dreams, I was chatting online with a new friend who also found herself in my shoes: unable to sleep in the wee hours of the night and morning because we had the little monster known as Parkinson’s disease.

When you think of Parkinson’s disease, you usually think of someone shaking in one part of their body or another. But there’s more to it than that, such as how it wreaks havoc with (what was once known as) your sleep pattern. Ah, what we wouldn’t give to be able to sleep like a baby again. But that is actually what we do! We sleep like babies. Up and down all through the night, sometimes waking from bad dreams, sometimes too hot from night sweats, sometimes crying due to nightmares from the drugs we take.

What to do, what to do.

Here are a few suggestions to make sleep more attainable. Everyone’s different, so what works for some, may not work for all.

  1. Put on relaxing music — quietly, as everyone else is sleeping, remember? My daughter can only fall asleep with her ear plugs in, listening to music as she tries to fall asleep.
  2. Read a book. Preferably a boring one.
  3. Make sure you’ve taken your medications. If I miss my evening dose, I am almost always guaranteed to battle the restless leg syndrome monster, and that guarantees me at least an hour and a half of not being able to sleep.
  4. There are a plethora of sleeping aids on the drugstore shelf. Some sleeplessness patients recommend one instead of the other. It comes down to what works best for you, if they’re helpful at all. It’s a good idea to run it by your doctor before adding more drug substances to your mixture of medicinal cocktails.
  5. Essential oils are the rage, and there is actually a mixture for sleeping that my daughter-in-law introduced to me that is rubbed on the feet. Her oil rep made a mixture for her, so you’d have to contact a doTerra rep or someone who knows essential oils to get a formula that works for you.
  6. Many people are going for other remedies that I cannot recommend, given that I haven’t tried them (and don’t intend to). They swear by their effectiveness (including medical marijuana).
  7. Melatonin seems to be a very popular natural sleep aid. I have tried it per a doctor’s recommendation, but even a half dose (pill) leaves me groggy the entire next day. (I am extremely sensitive to all medications.)
  8. A technique I have found that works is: As I lie in bed (and oddly enough, I can only fall asleep in one position), I intentionally make my body relax and then I begin to pray. It works 100 percent of the time.

What is your suggestion for sleeping with the enemy, aka Parkinson’s disease?


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease. 


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