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Struggling to Sleep with Parkinson's Disease

Posted Oct 05 2009 10:23pm

One of the frustrating things about Parkinson's disease is the propensity to have insomnia.  This has been a struggle for me and I've learned a few effective ways to cope with the inability to sleep. 

The first point I'd encourage you to investigate is to make sure you are not suffering from a sleep disorder.  Your neurologist can order a sleep study for you and that will tell her if you have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder.  Fortunately I don't have a sleep disorder....I just have difficulty going to sleep.

Here are a few things that I've found helpful as I have started practicing good "sleep hygiene" (funny terminology, isn't it?).

1.  I've decreased my caffeine intake so that I don't have coffee or caffeinated tea after mid-day.

2. As much as I enjoy television in the evenings, I've stopped watching highly suspenseful shows.  The excitement and suspense just get my mind moving too much making it more difficult for me to relax.

3. While I am trying to increase the amount of exercise I'm doing - I really try not to be too active in the evenings.  I've found that if I give myself time to wind down and relax then I fall asleep easier.

4. I've stopped working at night - no computer, no blogging, no internet chats. All of that stimulates my mind too much.  However, light reading or knitting seem to help me relax without being a total bump on a pickle!

5. The temperature of my bedroom stays cool and I sleep with the ceiling fan on (even in the winter).  When my body temperature rises, then I awaken.  It's good to keep the temperature cool so that I will stay asleep.

6. Nightlights and bright alarm clock lights are taboo in my bedroom.  If I can see the time and I can calculate the number of minutes/hours I'm awake, then I become frustrated, get up, and will find something to DO in order to keep from wasting time.

7.  The most important part of my new "sleep hygiene" routine is to breathe deeply if I am awake in bed.  The self-talk, deep breathing and making myself stay in bed - just resting - has good results.  Eventually I will fall asleep if I forbid myself to get up and be active.

These are just a few helpful tips from my experience.  If you have ideas that I've not mentioned, just drop a line and I'll try it out and add it to the list.

We all know that sleep deprivation is awful for our brains and our bodies. We need the rest so that our brains can face tomorrow with clarity and energy.

Sleep well!


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