a woman has trouble sleeping with parkinson's

Why Is Sleep Hard?

I awoke this morning at 7 AM.

I know that a one sentence paragraph is generally frowned upon. When it is used, however, it places emphasis on the topic. Let me shout to the rooftops, "I awoke this morning at 7 AM!" I am excitedly shouting about sleeping until 7 this morning because I went to bed at 10 PM last night. That means I slept 9 hours, minus the time it took for 2 or 3 trips to the bathroom.

Sleeping does not come easily these days, so I feel quite triumphant when I sleep more than a few hours. Those brief hours might come in one section of the night, be it early or late, or they may be scattered an hour of sleep here and an hour there. I do not feel rested from these erratic sleep hours.

Sleep, where art thou?

I wish I knew for certain why I find it hard to fall asleep and/or stay asleep because then I could seek a clear solution. Is Parkinson’s to blame? Is it a medication side effect? Is it due to vivid dreams or muscle cramping? I do not have an answer, but I know for certain that lack of sleep has been my reality since shortly after my Parkinson’s diagnosis.

And I am tired.

What do experts say?

I have read a great deal about sleep hygiene over the last 6 years. The short list of advice I recall is a compilation and not attributed to any one neurologist, somnologist, or sleep apnea doctor.

  • Exercise daily
  • Avoid blue screens (phone, tv, computer) in the hours leading up to bedtime
  • Go to bed and get up at the same time (What? Weekends are not for sleeping in?!)
  • Avoid excessive caffeine, especially in the hours just before bedtime.

Strategies I try to help me sleep

In this day and time, I rarely fall asleep when I would like to, sleep through the night, or wake feeling refreshed. It appears I need to revise my "how to fall and stay asleep" tactics.

I can lay still in bed for only so long while trying to fall asleep. When expert advice (and sleep) fail me, I try one or more of the following to regroup before attempting sleep once again.

  • Read a book (one I can hold - not an e-book).
  • Get up and do something: write a letter, clean, work on a hobby or project.
  • Message a friend who is most likely not sleeping either until one or both of you are tired enough to try to fall asleep again.

Sometimes one of these strategies will work. Sometimes I try them all without success and am grateful when it is finally time to get up.

An increase in exercise

I once tried a few over-the-counter and prescription medications to induce sleep. I had minimal success so stopped using them because of how groggy or fuzzy I felt the next morning. I have not yet considered participating in a sleep study.

I am fueled of late by more hours of sleep, which I attribute to an increase in exercise. That, or my cat has finally taught me how to catch some zzz's! Between what I have tried and what I have yet to try, I hope that in seeking restful sleep, my "where art thou?" soon turns into a resounding "eureka!"

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