Parkinson’s Disease Top Tips: Improving Sleep Quality


The forum is filled with people coming together to share valuable information. We’ve compiled experienced caregivers’ best tips and suggestions for helping a loved one with PD get quality rest.

Tips for Overcoming PD-Related Sleep Disorders

“When it comes to sleep issues, I prefer to start with the simplest solutions and then work my way up to medications (so many have side effects, are addictive or lose their effectiveness over time). Keeping your loved one as active as possible and not allowing them to sleep a lot during the day will help them rest better at night. I have my mom drink warm milk or hot chocolate before bedtime. This really helps her. I give her an Excedrin PM if she seems more agitated in the evenings.” –anonymous13319

“Swallowing often becomes a problem for PD patients. If your loved one sleeps on their back, that could cause disturbances like coughing and choking at night. Instead, prop them up a little bit or turn them on their side.” –bdeartrm

“We would give my mom Sudafed or an antihistamine each night at bedtime as a sleep aid. They’re non-addictive and helped her rest.” –writervicki

“Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is associated with Parkinson’s disease. There is a very effective treatment for RBD, and getting a more restful night’s sleep can help with other symptoms and behaviors. Make notes about your loved one’s nighttime behavior to share with the doctor, and ask about RBD. The usual treatment is a drug called clonazepam (Klonopin). My husband took this for many years. If he took it, it worked. If he forgot a dose, he acted out his dreams. It is a very effective treatment for this disorder. (Some doctors try melatonin first. If that works, super, but if it doesn’t, then be glad there is another drug to try.)” –jeannegibbs

“My 86-year-old mother has been diagnosed with PD or Parkinsonism (they are not sure which it is). She definitely has tremors. With her doctor’s permission I have been giving her Zzzquil (over the counter) every night, and it is non-habit-forming. The results have been incredible. She has slept through quite a few nights, and when she doesn’t, she only gets up twice at most. Before, she was up six or seven times a night to urinate. Make sure it is Zzzquil and not Nyquil. It is made by the same company. Also don’t give anything to them without a doctor’s knowledge and permission.” –BearHug

“I am a 68-year-old male and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s four years ago. I had a lot of trouble sleeping until around eight months ago when my neurologist adjusted my medication. Now I take two slow-release Sinemet tablets when I go to bed and half of a Madopar tablet (levodopa benserazide, which is only available in the UK and Canada under the name Prolopa). I should also mention that I have been sleeping on a ‘Wondersheet,’ which my wife bought online. It’s satin in the middle of the sheet and cotton at the top and bottom, which makes it much easier for me to turn in bed. It’s also easier for me to move if I don’t wear pajama bottoms. I’ve been sleeping much better since these changes.” –RobbieMortdale

“My husband’s nighttime disturbances were very severe. His doctors were able to solve that with Seroquel, which greatly benefited both of us. Most of the people in my support group have tried it. For many it was successful, for others it was neutral, and for some it made things worse. That is true of pretty much everything tried for brain diseases, though. Each brain really is unique, and one drug does not work for everyone. In our case, I learned not to give it to my husband until he was sitting on his bed in his pajamas since its effect is very rapid. He really couldn’t walk well about 20 minutes after taking it. If he had to get up in a few hours, he could walk to the bathroom just fine. But for those first couple of hours, he was safer in bed! By the way, this is one of the drugs hospice took my husband off of at the end. We quickly reversed that decision when he became agitated through the night again.” –jeannegibbs

Ashley Huntsberry-Lett

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Ashley is responsible for the planning and creation of’s award-winning content. As a teenager, she assisted in caring for her step-father during his three-year battle with colon cancer. Now, through her work at, she strives to inform and empower the caregivers who devote so much to helping and healing the ones they love.

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