Why do Parkinson's patients sleep so much?


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Do you know someone with Parkinson's? If so, you may be familiar with the fact that patients often struggle to get a good night's rest. But why is this so? This article will discuss why Parkinson's patients sleep so much and how it affects them.

We will also go over small tips on how to help improve sleep for those with the disease. By comprehending the significance of sleep, we can collaborate to guarantee that everyone enjoys a restful night's slumber. Let us strive to enhance the quality of our rest, fostering a collective commitment to well-being.

What is Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson's disease is a neurological condition that impacts the brain's functioning. It typically occurs in people over 60 and can cause tremors, stiffness, balance problems, slow movements, and difficulty speaking.

In addition to these physical symptoms, many people with Parkinson's experience sleep-related issues such as insomnia, vivid dreams and nightmares, restless leg syndrome, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Discuss Why Parkinson's Patients Sleep So Much

Sleep issues with Parkinson's are often caused by medication and other treatments such as deep brain stimulation (DBS). DBS is a procedure that can help to reduce the symptoms of Parkinson's by sending electrical pulses to affected areas in the brain.

Unfortunately, this treatment can also lead to disrupted sleep patterns. This is because the stimulation helps to stimulate dopamine production, which regulates our sleep-wake cycle and can cause an irregular pattern when treated with DBS.

Another factor that contributes to sleep disturbances in those with Parkinson's is that the disease can cause difficulty in relaxing and can lead to increased stress levels. Stress is a major factor in poor quality sleep, affecting our ability to fall and stay asleep throughout the night.

The Relationship Between Parkinson's and Sleep

The relationship between Parkinson's and sleep is a complex one. To begin with, the illness can give rise to symptoms that hinder relaxation, resulting in elevated stress levels. This, in turn, can impact our capacity to initiate and maintain a restful sleep throughout the night. In addition, certain medications and treatments prescribed for those with Parkinson's have been known to disrupt the body's natural sleep-wake cycle.

Furthermore, people with Parkinson's often experience more difficulty falling asleep due to their lack of ability to relax and focus on breathing. This can result in a process known as sleep onset latency (SOL) when it takes longer than usual to fall asleep. There may also be an increased frequency of awakenings at night, which can interfere with a person's natural sleep rhythm.

One of the most common issues with Parkinson's and sleep is restless leg syndrome (RLS). This condition is marked by an irresistible urge to move one's legs in a reclined or seated position. The exact cause is unknown, but it could be related to dopamine levels in the brain. It is a common occurrence in individuals with Parkinson's disease and can disrupt their ability to both initiate and maintain sleep due to the discomfort it causes.

People with Parkinson's may also encounter other sleep disorders, including narcolepsy and sleep apnea. Narcolepsy is characterized by excessive daytime drowsiness and an inability to stay awake during the day. Meanwhile, sleep apnea is when breathing is briefly interrupted due to a blocked airway. Both conditions can further disrupt one's natural sleep-wake cycle and must be addressed to ensure adequate nighttime rest.

Is there a difference in the quality of sleep experienced by Parkinson's patients who sleep more?

It's important to note that not all Parkinson's patients experience the same kind of sleep. Research has found that those who suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) due to medication or treatment can often be more rested and get better quality sleep than those who do not experience EDS.

In a study conducted by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, in which participants with Parkinson's were monitored during overnight sleep tests, a significant difference was found between the quality of sleep experienced by those who did and did not suffer from EDS. Those without EDS experienced more restful sleep and greater amounts of deep non-rapid eye movement (N-REM) sleep than those with EDS, indicating they were more rested.

Furthermore, those with EDS had more time spent in light and REM sleep than those without the condition, suggesting that their sleep was less restful. This could be because those with excessive daytime sleepiness often struggle to achieve deep N-REM sleep due to medication disruptions or treatments such as DBS.

It's important to note that many other factors can contribute to the quality of sleep experienced by Parkinson's patients. For example, having a regular exercise routine and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits such as avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bedtime help improve the quality of one's sleep. Additionally, ensuring that the bedroom is quiet, dark, and comfortable, and the bed sheet is easy to move on for its friction-minimizing and mobility-enhancing qualities, may also be beneficial in getting better quality sleep.

Generally, there seems to be a distinction in sleep quality between Parkinson's patients who experience excessive daytime sleepiness and those who do not. Those with EDS may be more likely to experience less restful sleep due to disruptions from medications or treatments such as DBS. However, numerous lifestyle habits and factors can still be implemented to improve sleep quality and provide greater restful sleep for those with Parkinson's.

Can Exercise Help Improve Sleep Quality?

Yes, exercise can be beneficial for improving the quality of sleep experienced by people with Parkinson's. Regular aerobic exercise has been known to increase alertness during the day and improve sleep quality. Here are 6 ways that exercise can help improve sleep quality:

1. Improved sleep onset latency:

Regular exercise can greatly enhance the speed at which we drift into sleep, scientifically called sleep onset latency (SOL). This highlights the positive influence physical activity can have on our sleep quality. According to research, regular exercise has decreased sleep onset latency (SOL), helping individuals fall asleep faster than those with a sedentary lifestyle. Moreover, engaging in physical exercise boosts the production of serotonin, a hormone that plays a vital role in regulating our body's internal clock and improves the quality of our sleep.

Regular exercise is also advantageous in lowering stress levels, which can greatly benefit individuals with Parkinson's by promoting improved sleep quality. By reducing stress hormones, such as cortisol, exercise helps relax both the mind and body, facilitating faster onset of sleep through alleviating muscle tension.

Reducing the struggle to move in bed, including getting in and out of bed, can also be advantageous in lowering stress levels associated with the frustration and dread of feeling stuck each night. The use of friction-minimizing, mobility-enhancing bed sheets and sleep garments is recognized as an effective strategy to regain some freedom to reposition more naturally. This in turn increases confidence thereby reducing stress and anxiety associated with immobility, discomfort, and sense of dependency. Reducing stress and cortisol levels in this regard can have a positive effect on sleep onset latency.

2. Reduced awakening frequency:

Regular exercise can also contribute to a reduction in nighttime awakenings for individuals living with Parkinson's disease. Research has found that regular exercise may increase the production of endorphins, which are hormones that act as natural painkillers and help reduce sensations of discomfort or restlessness in the legs. This can be especially helpful for those who suffer from restless leg syndrome due to Parkinson's, as it can reduce the urge to move one's legs and decrease the frequency of nighttime awakenings.

Regular exercise can also help regulate sleep-wake cycles and improve sleep quality. Improved physical fitness has been known to increase total sleep time, slow-wave deep sleep (the deepest phase of non-REM sleep) and reduce night-time awakenings. Furthermore, regular exercise can enhance the natural circadian rhythms of our body's biological clock, resulting in a more rejuvenating and restful sleep experience.

Friction-minimizing sheets and sleep garments make every move easier when changing position for comfort. Because moving becomes significantly smoother and requires less effort, sleep becomes less disrupted. This can result in reduced frequency of awakenings. With minimal friction, there is less need to toss to turn – gravity has less of an effect when changing position.

3. Improved REM sleep and dream recall

Exercise offers many advantages, including the potential to improve Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and dream recall. Apart from its myriad advantages, participating in physical activities can also improve the quality of your sleep and enhance your ability to recall dreams. Studies have shown that exercise is linked to an increase in the duration of REM sleep, which can be particularly advantageous for individuals experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness due to Parkinson's disease. In addition, regular exercise may also lead to improved recollection of dreams, as it is associated with increased brain activity during REM sleep.

Overall, exercise can be a beneficial tool for improving the quality of sleep experienced by those with Parkinson's. Regular aerobic exercise has been known to help reduce sleep onset latency, awakenings frequency and improve the quality of REM sleep and dream recall. Although it is important to consult a doctor before starting any exercise routine, regular physical activity can help those with Parkinson's achieve more restful sleep.

4. Improved sleep quality overall:

Overall, exercise can be a beneficial tool for improving the quality of sleep experienced by those with Parkinson's. Regular physical activity has been known to help improve the body's natural circadian rhythms, reduce stress levels, and help regulate sleep-wake cycles.

Regular aerobic exercises, such as walking or cycling, can bring about many advantages regarding sleep. It can help improve the time it takes to fall asleep, decrease the frequency of waking up at night, and enhance the quality of REM sleep and dream recall. Furthermore, physical activity has demonstrated its ability to alleviate leg discomfort and restlessness, providing a distinct advantage for individuals coping with restless leg syndrome induced by Parkinson's disease.

5. Increased alertness during the day:

In addition to helping improve sleep quality, exercise can also help increase alertness during the day for those with Parkinson's. Studies have revealed that regular physical activity can effectively diminish excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue by boosting energy levels throughout the day.

The production of endorphins released during exercise has been known to help improve alertness, reduce stress levels, and increase feelings of well-being. Moreover, individuals who regularly participate in physical activity have been shown to enjoy heightened productivity and enhanced cognitive function due to improved blood circulation throughout the body.

Lastly, exercise can also be a great way for Parkinson's patients to find relief from symptoms such as stiffness or difficulty walking. Regular physical activity can help improve flexibility, strength, and coordination, which can especially benefit those suffering from Parkinson's.

6. Better mental health:

Consistent physical exercise can greatly influence the mental and emotional well-being of individuals with Parkinson's. Scientific evidence demonstrates that engaging in regular physical activity can effectively alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress, which are frequently encountered by individuals living with Parkinson's disease.

Furthermore, exercise also plays a vital role in enhancing self-esteem and confidence among individuals coping with this chronic condition. Extensive research has revealed that regular exercise enables individuals to effectively manage the emotional and psychological effects of Parkinson's, leading to a more positive outlook on their overall quality of life.

Lastly, engaging in physical activity can help improve overall cognitive functioning and reduce feelings of confusion or forgetfulness, often experienced by Parkinson's patients. Exercise has been known to help increase alertness and productivity and improve brain function and memory recall.

What are the signs that Parkinson's is getting worse?

Here are some of the signs that Parkinson's may be worsening:

  • Increased tremors

  • Difficulty walking or performing everyday activities

  • Decrease in physical activity and mobility

  • Reduced muscle control

  • Poor balance and coordination

  • Slowed speech or changes in voice volume

  • Changes in handwriting size, slurred speech, or difficulty swallowing

  • Increased fatigue

  • Changes in facial expression

  • Cognitive changes or memory loss

  • Fluctuations in mood, such as heightened irritability or anxiety, can indicate changes in emotional state

  • Sleep disruptions, encompassing challenges initiating and maintaining sleep, can pose difficulties

If you notice any of these signs in yourself or a loved one with Parkinson's, discussing your concerns with a healthcare professional is important. They will be able to determine whether the symptoms are indicative of a worsening condition or due to another underlying medical issue.

Timely and precise diagnosis, combined with prompt treatment, plays a crucial role in mitigating the progression of Parkinson's disease and effectively managing its symptoms. The early identification and implementation of appropriate measures are vital for slowing down the advancement of the disease and enhancing the quality of life for individuals affected by it.

Timely intervention not only helps mitigate the advancement of the disease but also enhances the overall quality of life for individuals affected by it. Taking prompt action can effectively slow down the condition's progression and enhance individuals' overall quality of life.


In summary, exercise can serve as a valuable means to enhance the sleep quality of individuals with Parkinson's. Engaging in regular physical activity is linked to improved sleep initiation, decreased frequency of awakenings, and extended duration of REM sleep. Exercise can also help improve alertness during the day, reduce discomfort or restlessness in the legs, and increase endorphin production, which helps reduce stress levels and improve feelings of well-being. Furthermore, regular physical activity can also help improve mental and emotional health, as it is associated with increased self-esteem and confidence. However, it is important to consult a doctor before starting any exercise routine.


How do you know when the end is near with Parkinson's disease?

A progressive deterioration in physical and cognitive capabilities marks the late stages of Parkinson's disease. Patients may experience increased tremors, difficulty speaking or swallowing, changes in posture, loss of balance and coordination, and worsening mental and emotional health.

It is important to consult with a doctor if you think that the symptoms of Parkinson's are getting worse so that they can provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Do people with Parkinson's need a lot of sleep?

Yes, people with Parkinson's often need more sleep than the average person. Parkinson's disease can disrupt the body's natural circadian rhythms, resulting in insomnia symptoms like difficulty falling or staying asleep. This occurs because Parkinson's affects the body's internal clock, leading to disturbances in sleep patterns.

How long does the final stage of Parkinson's last?

The length of the final stage of Parkinson's varies from person to person. For some, the last stage may only last a few days; for others, it can last several months or longer. A gradual deterioration in physical and cognitive capabilities marks the advanced stages of Parkinson's disease. Patients may experience increased tremors, difficulty speaking or swallowing, changes in posture, loss of balance and coordination, and worsening mental and emotional health.

How do you treat Parkinson's sleep?

The best way to treat Parkinson's sleep is through properly managing the condition. This includes medications to control motor symptoms, lifestyle modifications such as regular physical activity and relaxation techniques, and supportive therapies like friction-reducing, mobility-enhancing sheets and sleepwear, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. In addition to these treatments, it is also important to consult a doctor if you are having difficulty sleeping or other disruptive symptoms that could be indicative of a worsening condition.

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