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Foundation Updates

Our Community Shares Tips for Improving Sleep

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We all know the importance of sleep for keeping our bodies and brains healthy. But for many, good sleep is hard to come by. This is especially true for people with Parkinson’s — who may experience fatigue, insomnia and difficulty falling or staying asleep. Some also act out their dreams while asleep, known as REM sleep behavior disorder or RBD. (Watch a video on RBD.)

In a recent Third Thursdays Webinar on sleep, our community weighed in on what strategies they use to improve sleep. In a poll with nearly 900 submissions, respondents shared that they:

  • Avoid late-day caffeine (73%)
  • Maintain a regular schedule (60%)
  • Create a routine (52%)
  • Sleep in a cold room (50%)
  • Limit daytime naps (45%)

Attendees also wrote in other strategies they use to improve sleep. Here are the top five tips we compiled from our community:

  1. Take melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone made by the brain that helps control the sleep cycle. Levels are typically low during the day and higher at night. Melatonin supplement is available over the counter, and many people use it to help with sleep or for RBD. Talk with your doctor about your sleep problems (making sure you first address any contributing factors, such as Parkinson’s symptoms or medications) and ask whether this supplement might help and what the best dose is for you.
  2. Exercise. Regular exercise may improve sleep in general. Watch the time, though, as working out too close to bedtime might make it harder to fall asleep. (Watch a video on exercise.)
  3. Limit late-night alcohol. While alcohol may help you fall asleep easily, it may interrupt your sleep later in the night.
  4. Take medication. There are medications doctors may recommend to help sleep problems. Some include melatonin, sedatives such as Lunesta and antidepressants such as Silenor. (Find a list on our website.) Talk to your doctor about the best match for your symptoms and overall health.
  5. Avoid stress and practice relaxation techniques. Stress can bring on or worsen Parkinson’s symptoms. Mindfulness meditation, which includes breathing and other relaxation techniques, may help you lower stress before bed. (Download our guide on stress.)

Through our landmark Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative study, researchers are learning about sleep changes and Parkinson’s to develop better tests and treatments. Whether you have Parkinson’s or not, join the study that could change everything.

Want to learn more about sleep? Download our sleep guide.

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