10 tips to help you sleep well with Parkinson's

If you have Parkinson's, your sleep may be disrupted. This may happen if your movement symptoms make it hard to turn over in bed. You may also find it more difficult to sleep well if you experience bladder and bowel problems or pain.

Below are 10 sleep hygiene ‘rules’, recommended by psychologists, to help you get a good night's sleep with Parkinson's.

1 Don’t have caffeine before you go to bed

This includes tea, coffee, chocolate and cocoa. Many soft drinks also contain caffeine, so check the labels.

Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it can make you feel more awake. Its effects can last for 3 to 4 hours. If caffeine is affecting your body at bedtime, it can increase the time it takes you to get to sleep and make sleep lighter and more restless.

It is also important to limit the total amount of caffeine you drink during the day too.

2 Avoid drinking alcoholic drinks 4 to 6 hours before bedtime

Alcohol can make you feel sleepy. But as its effects wear off we get what’s called ‘withdrawal’ and that has the opposite effect. Although alcohol can help you get to sleep, the withdrawal effect can lead to restlessness and waking up during the night.

Another effect of drinking alcohol at night is nocturia – the need to get up and go to the toilet, which will also disturb your sleep.

3 Try not to smoke around bedtime or when awake during the night

Like caffeine, nicotine is a stimulant and the effects are similar, even if you feel smoking relaxes you.

4 Try to relax before going to bed

If you are in a relaxed mindset before you go to bed then you may find it easier to drift off.

5 Avoid vigorous exercise within 2 hours of bedtime

Regular activity, such as a daily walk, can make you feel better both physically and mentally. But it’s best to avoid intense exercise within 2 hours of bedtime, as the effects of the activity may make you less able to fall asleep.

6 Keep your bedroom calm and comfortable

Try to reduce clutter and furniture and keep your bedroom tidy.

7 Avoid excessively hot or cold temperatures

High room temperatures (24°C or higher) may disturb normal sleep and make you restless. Most people sleep better if their bedroom is cool. If possible, it’s best to keep your bedroom temperature at around 16°C to 18°C.

8 Reduce noise and light in the bedroom

Light and noise can disturb sleep. Try to close windows, use ear plugs or move to a quieter room if noise is a problem. It’s important to have a dark bedroom with curtains or blinds that keep out street lights or daylight. If this is a particular problem, try using an eye mask.

9 Keep your bedroom mainly for sleeping

Ideally, bedrooms should be calm spaces for sleeping. Keep your bedroom for sleep, so your mind associates it with activities that lead to sleep. Try to avoid things like watching television or using laptops or tablets in bed.

10 Try to keep to a regular routine

A regular routine is the key to better sleep. Try to stick to a regular pattern of times for bed, getting up, meals, exercise and other routine activities.

Find out more about how your sleep can be affected if you have Parkinson's or care for someone with the condition.