Sleep & Fatigue

Sleep can be challenging for people with young onset for a number of reasons. Sleep disturbances are often one of the first signs of Parkinson's. Having young children at home may also disrupt your sleep. However good sleep hygiene is an important part of maintaining your wellbeing when you have Parkinson's.

Sleep disturbances can lead to fatigue (great tiredness) and moodiness and reduce your quality of life. Sleep is so important because it gives the body time to restore and repair itself.

We need different amounts of sleep at different ages. Babies’ brains are extremely busy building, reorganising, differentiating, consolidating learning, so they sleep much of the time. A 2-year-old still needs 14 hours for brain development and socialization, and a 9 year old up to 12 hours. 

Teen brains are very busy physically pruning and rewiring many emotional and task areas and need 9 hours, which they seldom get thanks to technology, caffeine and a 2 hour shift in melatonin that keeps them awake late evening and asleep when they need to get up for school, leaving them permanently sleep deprived (hence sleeping all weekend). Young adults’ brains recover well from inconsistent sleep and weekend top-ups, but by 40 we are less flexible and normally need 7-8 hours regularly. 

Older people have brain changes that can cause sleep to be more fragmented, often worsened by medications and lack of exercise. Luckily, they are often able to nap when they feel tired, especially that all important midday nap which we are designed to have.

Integrating good sleep hygiene will benefit your mood, fatigue and apathy. Quick sleep tips include to: 

  • get sunlight first thing in the morning
  • go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day
  • get regular physical activity
  • take short daytime naps (ideally 15 to 30 minutes and less than 90 minutes)
  • avoid screen time for at least an hour before bed
  • avoid alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants in the evenings
  • keep the bedroom dark and cool (around 18.30c).