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Rest and Sleep

Sleep is an important component of overall health and quality of life

Parkinson’s disease creates many challenges to getting a good night’s rest. Try these tips to help you get enough rest and sleep, which is an important component of overall health and quality of life.

Getting a Good Night's Rest

  • Make a regular, relaxing bedtime routine a habit.
  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule: get up and go to sleep at the same time every day.
  • Get plenty of bright light exposure during the day, particularly natural daytime light.
  • Decrease fluids several hours before bedtime, and go to the bathroom before getting into bed to sleep.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise, alcohol, nicotine and caffeine within 4 hours of your bedtime.
  • Use your bed only for sleeping and intimacy with your partner.
  • Banish animals from the bed!
  • Customize your sleep environment: invest in a good mattress and pillows.
  • Set the bedroom temperature at a cool, comfortable level.
  • Limit daytime napping to a 40-minute NASA nap (yes, tested by astronauts!).
  • Lie down to sleep only when sleepy. Learn to tell the difference between fatigue and sleepiness.
  • If you are unable to sleep after 15 minutes, get out of bed and engage in a relaxing activity like listening to music, meditation or reading until you are sleepy.
  • Turn off the TV. If weaning yourself of a TV habit is difficult, try a relaxation or nature recording.
  • Keep lighting and noise at low levels when trying to sleep.
  • Eliminate the common but bad habit of “checking the clock” throughout the night.
  • Limit prescription sedatives to a 2-week period; instead, try over-the-counter alternatives such as Valerian root capsules.
  • Sleep as much as needed to feel refreshed, but avoid spending too much time in bed.

Getting into Bed

  • Approach the bed as you would a chair; feel the mattress behind both legs.
  • Slowly lower yourself to a seated position on the bed, using your arms to control your descent.
  • Lean on your forearm while you allow your body to lean down to the side.
  • As you body goes down, the legs will want to go up like a seesaw.
  • DO NOT put your knee up on the mattress first. In other words, don’t “crawl” into bed.

Rolling or Turning Over in Bed

  • Bend your knees up with feet flat.
  • Allow knees to fall to one side as you begin to roll.
  • Turn your head in the direction you are rolling and reach top arm across the body.
  • Some PD patients find that “silk sheets” help them move better in bed.

Scooting Over in Bed

  • Bend your knees up with feet flat.
  • Push into the bed with feet and hand to lift your hips up off the bed. Then shift hips in the desired direction.
  • Finish by repositioning feet in the direction your hips moved.

Getting Out of Bed

  • Bend knees up, feet flat on the bed.
  • Roll onto your side toward the edge of the bed by letting the knees fall to that side. Reach across with the top arm, and turn your head to look in the direction you are rolling.
  • Lower your feet from the bed as you push with your arms into a sitting position.

Watch CareMAP: Rest and Sleep Part 2 for information on how a caregiver can help a person with Parkinson’s get into and out of bed.