white pillows on orange bed head night-time routine

While Parkinson's disease primarily affects movement, it can also impact daily routines and activities. This is especially true at night, when many people with Parkinson's struggle to get to sleep or stay asleep.

Alongside other healthcare professionals an occupational therapist can help you develop a night-time routine that makes sleeping easier and helps you stay comfortable throughout the night. Here are some tips to get started.

What can help Parkinson’s’ at night

It is very common for your sleeping habits to become disrupted and traditional nighttime routines go out the window. This is another factor of living with Parkinson’s. Instead of simply watching TV all night and stressing about the disease progression there are proactive things you can do to combat this.

  • Exercise – Occupational therapists work with all different members of the health care community and can put you in touch with physios that can tailor make an exercise routine specifically for you. This will hopefully help your sleep routine and your overall quality of life.
  • Stretches – discuss with physio and stretch regime prior to bedtime that helps your muscles relax during the nighttime period. Be sure to implement this into your everyday activities and give it time to work.

man sitting stretching routine with Parkinson's

  • Diet - reduce caffeine and other stimulants conducive with good sleep hygiene. Remember it isn’t just one change that will help you fall asleep it is a culmination of different practices and changes you can make in your overall behaviour that will make the biggest impact.
  • Contact your Parkinson’s Nurse – DO NOT suffer alone. Parkinson’ Nurses are vastly experienced in the day-to-day management of the condition and can suggest coping mechanisms that they know have worked for others.
  • Be prepared - make sure your nightly routine is well drilled and prepared, other family members can help you with this. Your sleep quality can be severely affected in those vital hours before bed so be careful how and what you plan. Limit liquids during the day especially on the lead up to bedtime.  
  • Environment – ensure your bedroom environment gives you the best chance of a good night’s sleep. Some people recommend white noise to relax parts of the brain that are overly active. Make sure there’s a clear path to the bathroom. 

Night-time toileting 

Difficulties sleeping through the night can be a common feature of Parkinson’s. 

The bladder’s sleep-wake cycle can often be affected causing the need to frequently urinate at night-time.  This can be a problem, particularly with individuals with Parkinson’s as bed mobility is often a challenge.

 Stiffness can mean physically getting out of bed at shortness can become problematic.

Equipment such as a urine bottle or commode next to the bed side can be useful, particularly when experiencing a sudden urgency to urinate.  If the toilet is close by, ensuring there is a clear path to the bathroom as well as sufficient lighting will help make the movement easier and reduce the risk of trips or falls. 

Sensory blue lights can be useful and reduce the need to think about finding a light switch. 

Add shopping links

male urinal female, urinals, Commode, Motion sensor light

Bed mobility 

Due to rigidity in the body lying down and adjusted position in bed can be very difficult.  Many people end up lying across of the bed or roll to the far side of the bed. This can exacerbate issues linked to the need to frequently urinate and can cause periods of incontinence in bed.   

Techniques recommended to help move more smoothly in bed look at moving the body in sections.

For example, your shoulder and head then hip and feet.  Use a bridging technique to push up your hips and moving them a small distance to help achieve small position changes. 

 The use of equipment such as anti-slip mats can provide some additional grip.

Useful Parkinson’s Sleep helpers

Discuss with the healthcare professional particularly your Occupational Therapist about what might be useful for you. Here are some of our own recommendations, 

  • Satin bed sheets – allowing friction free movement. It is important however to ensure they are half sheets to continue to allow your feet some material to grip.  
  • Satin pyjamas - these can be used to help reduce any friction when moving in bed.
  • Bed leavers - these provide some much need additional support and grip. 
  • Bed prompt cards, visualisation techniques and repetition of instructions can all help with the movement.  Specific movement techniques are recommended to improve ease of movement.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qptfRE_pesk
  • A bed rail can help give support as you move in and out of bed.

Shopping link to Parnell bed rail.

If you are living with Parkinson's, it is important to create a night-time routine that will help you get the most restful sleep possible. Implementing some of the tips we've discussed in this blog post should help make going to bed and waking up easier. Remember to take things slow and steady and be patient as you work on creating your new routine.

You may find that there are other strategies that work better for you than those we've mentioned here, so feel free to experiment until you find what works best for you.

It is important that these issues are discussed with your Parkinson’s nurse or Doctor as they may be able to review the timings of your medication to relive symptoms. 

Image Credits 

Header Image Engin Akyurt

Stretching Image Alexcdcarts


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