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What Makes a Senior with Parkinson’s Disease Have Insomnia?

If your senior loved one has Parkinson’s, symptoms of the condition and medications used to manage some of these symptoms can prevent him or her from having a restful night. To help combat the possible reasons for your loved one’s insomnia, Bridgewater Parkinson’s care experts have put together a list of the different types of sleeplessness Parkinson’s disease can lead to.

Nightmares or Vivid Dreams

Many seniors with Parkinson’s require dopamine medication to control their symptoms. Unfortunately, nighttime doses of dopamine can cause vivid dreams and nightmares that can interfere with your loved one’s sleep. If this is the case, you should talk to your loved one’s doctor to see if the medication can be taken earlier, decreased, or even eliminated.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

Parkinson’s affects the part of the brain that controls movement during sleep. These neurological changes and side effects from medications can cause REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD). RBD is characterized by vocalizations and acting out during dreams. A doctor can order a sleep study to determine if your loved one has RBD, and the condition is usually treated with a benzodiazepine.

Restless Legs Syndrome

Individuals with Parkinson’s often experience tingling sensations in their legs that worsen when they try to rest at night. This can be a side effect of both the disease and the medications used to treat it. Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) isn’t necessarily painful, but it can cause your loved one to wake up multiple times during the night. Standard treatments for RLS in seniors with Parkinson’s include clonazepam, dopamine agonists, and continuous release levodopa.

Daytime Sleepiness

Many Parkinson’s medications have a sedating effect, which can lead to excessive daytime sleeping that creates nighttime insomnia. Your loved one’s doctor may be able to help by modifying medications and dosage schedules. Stimulant medications, such as methylphenidate or modafinil, may help keep your loved one alert during the day so he or she can sleep at night.

Frequent Nighttime Urination

Seniors with Parkinson’s often find themselves getting up multiple times during the night to use the restroom. Encourage your loved one to try the following to reduce the number of bathroom trips and increase the chances of getting back to sleep:

• Going to the bathroom immediately before going to bed
• Limiting fluid intake 3 to 4 hours before bedtime
• Using a bedside commode to limit activity and light exposure

A good night’s rest is important for your loved one’s overall wellbeing. If he or she could use some help managing Parkinson’s disease or another condition that results in insomnia, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers are trained in the holistic Balanced Care Method, which helps promote excellent physical health, mental awareness, and inner calm. For more information on in-home care Bridgewater seniors and their families can rely on, give one of our experienced Care Managers a call at 908.450.9400 today.