Parkinson's patients experience difficulties with their sleep due to the disease itself and the medications that treat it. This can lead to increased sleepiness during the day.
Parkinson’s disease can cause problems with sleep, and the medications used to treat it can cause even more. Difficulties sleeping during the night can cause daytime sleepiness, and the medications can also cause drowsiness. This disruption to the circadian rhythms can lead to more frequent, lower quality sleep.
The different stages of sleepThere are 2 phases of sleep that alternate throughout the night:
- Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep
- Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep
The lightest stage of sleep is NREM, after which comes deeper sleep states. As people move back through to the lighter stages, they enter the REM state. If awoken during REM sleep, the sleeper will often report a dream.These are defined by:
- Brain activity
- Muscle movement
- Eye movements
Parkinson’s disease and sleep
If you would like further information about Parkinson’s, the causes, history, symptoms and treatments, see Parkinson’s: A Deeper Dive
30% of Parkinson’s patients experience sleep problems. These problems can include trouble falling asleep, and sleep fragmentation (waking up during the night). Trouble falling asleep can be caused by:
- Night sweats
- Trouble coordinating movement in bed
- Medications wearing off during the night, causing symptoms to return
- Side effects to the medication itself
- Increased need to use the bathroom
The effect of medicationSometimes the medications used to treat Parkinson’s can cause their own problems. The most common offenders are: These can cause vivid dreams and nightmares that regularly disrupt sleep. While these in themselves are not pleasant, they can also be cause for serious concern. Parkinson’s patients and their bedfellows need to consider the serious effects of Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behaviour Disorder (RBD). This occurs when the processes that prevent them from physically acting out their dreams, stop working. This can lead to yelling, screaming, kicking, or even getting out of bed to ‘act out’ what’s going on in their dream or nightmare. If the dreams were more pleasant, it might be that the physical reactions would be cause for less concern, but as the content of the dreams tends to be disturbed, the physical reactions can be violent. Bedfellows have reported being punched, kicked and/or bitten, all while the sleeping person is unaware of their behaviour. A further result of RBD is that the dreams are vivid, can affect the patient long-term (akin to trauma) and leave them feeling unrested. There are possible medications that can help, so if your loved one is experiencing RBD, it’s important to speak to a doctor. However, if the effects are long term the simplest solution might be to sleep in separate beds. If Parkinson's disease is taking it's toll on you or your loved one you might want to consider hiring a home carer. Home carers can fit around your schedule, so if you only need them to be around during the night, that is perfectly possible.
Just call 020 7148 0746.