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  • Why do you think Parkinsons patients have nightmares?

    Posted by Mary Beth Skylis on December 21, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    My Dad recently told me that he has woken up in the middle of the night punching the air or battling a nemesis of some kind. The nightmares worry him because he doesn’t want to hurt my Mom. Why do you think Parkinsons patients have nightmares? Is this symptom possibly associated with medication? And have you learned how to manage this issue?

    Lucinda replied 1 year, 1 month ago 8 Members · 9 Replies
  • 9 Replies
  • Roy

    December 22, 2020 at 2:38 pm

    I have had nightmares similar to your dad’s for many years, way before I knew I had PD. Therefore, I do not believe they are caused by medication.

  • Daniel Best

    December 22, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    My dad acted out violently in his sleep long before his PD diagnosis.  So I agree with the other responder that I don’t believe it’s the medication

  • Steve

    December 22, 2020 at 3:35 pm

    Likely due to REM Behavior Disorder which is thought to be both prodromal to PD as well as symptomatic of PD. Caused by loss of domaminergic cells in the substantia nigra of the brain.

  • Steve

    December 22, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    Melatonin and Clonazepam are cited as symptom treatment.  Injury to bed partners is a concern and often drives people to seek help.



  • Jack edmonston

    December 22, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    I’ve had vivid nightmares and have acted some of them out.  Tried to crawl out the window,.  Up a wall.

    Punched my wife.

    Here’s the story:<wbr />health/vivid-dreams-causes#<wbr />causes


  • Matthew Ploof

    April 19, 2023 at 9:08 am

    I have had issues with nightmares (acting out, talking in my sleep) so my neurologist put me on clonazepam. It works, but I find that I wake up groggy and sluggish. Therefore, I only use it when the nightmares are severe and consistent.

  • Troy

    April 20, 2023 at 3:21 pm

    Hi Mary Beth,

    I have this too- as Steve mentions, it’s REM Sleep Behavior Disorder and a symptom of synucleinopathy. My MDS sent me to a sleep neurologist who diagnosed me, and then had me do a sleep study to confirm. In my first RBD dream, I dreamed I was Bruce Lee, doing a slo-mo Matrix kick over a car as I took on the bad guys. Woke up kicking my poor wife in the side! Down comforter kept me from doing any damage. We bought a Bruce Lee “flying kick” t-shirt to commemorate.

    I now use a weighted blanket and I respond well enough to my last dose of L-dopa, along with mirapex, to keep me from acting out (NIH did a study on L-dopa working for some patients with RBD). But as things progress, I imagine I’ll have to start taking clonazepam (I’ve just recently started to act out while asleep in the car- last fight was with a rhino). I do not respond well to melatonin.

    • Troy

      April 20, 2023 at 3:26 pm

      Also dealing with insomnia- which can be a side effect of L-dopa or a general symptom of PD. So, no sleep or sleep with nightmares?!

  • Lucinda

    April 20, 2023 at 8:50 pm

    I think it has to do with how our brains sort information when we’re sleeping. I had just discovered that playing games such as block games and others wherein there is sorting and arranging of items, seemed to help reduce the severity of my dreams until a certain day in January when I had been busy paying bills and didn’t take as much time playing games on my phone. That night, I dreamed that my now grown kids were little and the neighborhood we were living in was being violently attacked. I yelled for them to “GET DOWN” as I jumped to cover them. In reality, I had been sleeping on my stomach, as usual; in the process of trying to turn and jump to protect my kids, I was actually jumping up, and over, landing on the corner of my nightstand, resulting in 2 broken ribs. I now make it a priority to take the time to play games involving sorting and arranging things on my phone every day. My sleep still isn’t as sound and unbroken as I would like, but playing on my phone for a bit when I wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning along with a glass of milk helps me go back to sleep until my husband is ready to get up.

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