Sleep Disorders

A good night’s sleep can help you feel and do your best. Unfortunately, many people with Parkinson’s have trouble falling or staying asleep at night. Sleep problems can arise from Parkinson’s motor or non-motor symptoms, medication side effects or other conditions that affect sleep.

Types of Sleep Disturbances

  • Insomnia
  • Daytime Sleepiness / Hypersomnia
  • REM Sleep Behaviour (RBD)
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Sleep apnoea

Parkinson’s disease (PD) affects 100,000 Australians and while the causes of the condition remain largely unknown, Professor Simon Lewis, from the Brain & Mind Research Institute says people don’t realise that the disease can have many different early manifestations.

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REM Sleep Disorder (RBD)

Dream enactment behaviour where patients can injure themselves and/or their bed partners is a common symptom that needs to be addressed in Parkinson’s Disease, Lewy Body Dementia and Multiple System Atrophy. “Possibly the most dramatic of its symptoms, however is known as REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder. Parkinson patients have been known to start acting out in their dreams, often punching or kicking the person sharing their bed. “For some Parkinson patients it comes as a revelation and relief, not to mention their spouses, that the condition may be responsible for things that go ‘bump’ or ’kick’ in the night,” says Dr Lewis.

What is REM Sleep Behaviour


Treating REM Sleep Behaviour

Tips to help you sleep better

As you work with your doctor to pinpoint and treat the cause of your sleep problem, practising good sleep hygiene may help you get a better night’s sleep.

Keep a sleep diary or use technology to track your sleep. Important notes to record include the time you go to bed and get up, how many times you awaken during the night and why, and how many hours you sleep. Keep track of the caffeinated beverages you drink (both how many and at what time of day), if you nap and your exercise routine. These notes will help you to have a productive conversation with your doctor about your sleep.

Limit daytime naps. Sleeping too much during the day, especially late in the day will likely prevent you from sleeping well at night.

Avoid caffeine, alcohol and exercise later in the day. Caffeine consumed in the afternoon can keep you awake at night. Although alcohol may seem to help you fall asleep more easily, it may interrupt your sleep later in the night. Working out regularly earlier in the day can improve sleep overall but exercising too close to bedtime might make it harder to fall asleep.

Don’t drink too much fluid before bed. This is especially important if you experience frequent nighttime urination.

Use the bedroom only for sleep and intimacy. Don’t watch television, read, use your telephone or do anything other than sleep in bed. When you use your bed only for sleep, your body and mind will automatically know what’s supposed to happen when you get into bed.

Create a bedtime routine. An hour before bed, start to prepare for sleep. Turn off the television, computer and other electronics that emit stimulating light. Take a warm bath, drink a cup of decaffeinated tea or read something for fun. Get your body and mind in the habit of winding down and preparing for sleep.

Keep a regular schedule. Go to sleep and get up at around the same time every day, even on the weekends.


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