person staring at the ceiling unable to sleep

Sleep, Old Buddy, Old Pal ... Where Are You?

Parkinson’s disease has many faces ... many guises. Do not be naive and underestimate it. Evidently, there are overt symptoms, which are hard to ignore in the cold light of day.

The tremor, the stiffness, the poor balance, and the shuffling walk. But, like a mammoth iceberg innocently bobbing away on the surface, much doth lurk underneath what the eye can see.

What you don't see

For there are many sneaky and sinister ways in which it chooses to erode and slowly disintegrate the remaining quality of your life that the people around may not recognize. With the principal example being ... the crippling, relentless sleepless nights.

Parkinson’s disease does not like sleep. Not even one iota. For some bizarre reason, sleep is one of the many (*Boo, hiss*) things Parkinson’s disease loathes. But this is much to my dismay and despair because, I conversely, adore sleep. Or, perhaps, I should say adored sleep.

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The magic of sleep

I used to go running to my bed as soon as the clock struck 9 PM. I was a sleep aficionado (Disclaimer: There is no such profession.)

Sleep to me was luxurious and indulgent and oh-so-rejuvenating. It possessed a magical and transformative power. It turned me from a mumbling, incoherent zombie into an almost-decipherable quasi-human.

Thus, I have always seen it as a magical tonic ... a necessary elixir for life and holistic well-being. But, the intruder in my head, good ol’ Pesky Parkinator, has decided that sleep is no longer going to play an integral part of my life.

In my case, Parkinson’s disease has quite proudly and audaciously obliterated my sleep. It has got an almighty sledgehammer and whacked it right between its furry eyebrows. I understand that this may not be the case for everyone with the same diagnosis and for that I applaud you.

A distant memory

So, if you are one of the luckier people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease who is still getting some sleep, let it be noted for the record that I wholeheartedly envy you. I would give my 2 front teeth and probably my left arm too (it is my weaker side, to be fair) for one night of unbroken, uninterrupted sleep.

However, those days are just a distant memory for me now. Instead, nowadays, I get pitiful scraps of sleep. I sleep between 1 and 3 hours. Wake up. Often, in a stiff, rigid corpse-like state ... riddled with pain. So, I medicate. Then, I fretfully wait for sleep to return. But, nada, nothing. Nope, not today. Not this time Shamsa. Nuh-uh.

Double the pain

For me, this feels like pain on top of pain. Pain2, if you will. Parkinson’s disease already causes me so much inconvenience, discomfort, and heartache, on a daily (hour to hour, minute to minute) basis.

So understandably, I warmly welcome any escape or temporary cessation of my cognizance about my existence in a "pained body."1

So, sleep would be a natural ally. An old comrade that lovingly soothed and reassured my frayed soul after a particularly tough day. But, oh no, the Parkinator has been stubbornly resolute in ensuring that is not the case for me.

To be continued ...

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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