Sleep Strategies for Parkinson’s Disease

sleepSleep is critical part to physical, psychological, cognitive & emotional health. With a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, sleep patterns can be largely affected and create difficulties with any of the following:

  • Time it takes to fall asleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Sleep quality
  • Need to get up frequently to utilize the restroom
  • Restless legs
  • REM sleep disorder
  • Hallucinations
  • Impaired cognition
  • Excessive daytime fatigue
  • and more…

There are several things you can do to ensure better quality of sleep and improved ability to fall asleep at night (and less falling asleep during the day). Try any of the following after talking with your physician or therapist:

  • Create a consistent routine
    • Try to get to bed at the same time and wake at the same time daily to ensure that your internal “clock” stays consistent
  • Use the bathroom right before bed, and make sure your toileting routine is regular (avoid large amounts of liquid right before bedtime)
  • Avoid caffeine and large bouts of sugar throughout your day
  • Do not smoke or consume alcohol before bed
  • Use the “15” minute rule (1)
    • If you have not been able to go to fall asleep for 15 minutes or think you are unable to fall asleep in the next 15 minutes, then you need to get out of bed and do something undemanding (reading, listening to music, etc) until you feel tired again
    • However, be careful, do not watch or stare at the clock. Just take your best guess related to time interval
  • Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature (not too hot, more toward cool temperature)
  • Try deep breathing strategies or progressive muscle relaxation to calm muscles prior to sleep
  • Avoid use of tablets and electronics in bed or immediately prior to bed
  • Get out and enjoy the sun
    • Sun throughout the day has been shown to help get your biological clock on the right track
  • Get plenty of physical exercise or movement throughout the day
    • Avoid heavy exercise 1-2 hours prior to bedtime

For more useful tips for sleep management, please explore National Parkinson’s Foundation or the Sleep Foundation.

Follow up with your Occupational Therapists, psychologist, physician or medical professional to assess your sleep hygiene habits and explore ways to better manage your sleep routines at night.




1-Green, A. & Brown, C. (Eds.). (2015). An Occupational Therapist’s Guide To Sleep and Sleep Problems. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kinglsey Publishers

2 -National Sleep Foundation (n.d.) Parkinson’s Disease and Sleep. Retrieved from

About the Author


Heather Simpson, OTR/L

Heather Simpson graduated with a B.S. in Exercise and Sport Science with a minor in Early Education from the University of Florida in 2007. Following…

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