Do Parkinson’s Medications Affect Sleep?

Do Parkinson’s Medications Affect Sleep?
Some PD meds, like MAO-B inhibitors (selegiline, rasagiline, safanimide) and amantadine (a medication used to treat dyskinesia), have alerting properties and may make insomnia worse. These medications are usually taken earlier in the day, so they do not impact sleep. Sinemet does not usually have a big impact on sleep compared to dopamine agonists.

However, nighttime hallucinations can emerge with increased intake of dopaminergic drugs, especially in people with more advanced Parkinson’s.
There are other possible causes of hallucinations, so if you begin to experience this, talk to your doctor right away. For more information, get your free copy of the Parkinson’s Foundation book Psychosis by calling Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636) or online at Parkinson.org/books.

Sleep hygiene refers to the behaviors and habits that we can control that affect our bodies day-night cycling and readiness to go to sleep or be alert at a given time of day. Follow these tips for better sleeping habits:

  1. It is especially important for individuals with sleep difficulties to set and follow regular bed/sleep and wake times with a goal of spending at least 7 but not much more than 8 hours in bed each night. Bedtimes should be chosen based on a target waking time (i.e. don’t go to bed at 8 pm if you don’t want to be up at 4 am!).
  2. The bed should be used only as a place of sleeping, reading and watching television should be done elsewhere.
  3. Daytime napping should be limited to one nap of no greater than 30 minutes, as longer naps do not seem to provide any greater benefit to daytime fatigue but do disrupt sleep drive for the coming night.
  4. Lastly it is vital that persons with these sleep disorders are exposed to as much light (preferably real daylight) and physical/mental stimulation during the day as possible. Light is an important synchronizer of the sleep-wake cycle and many elderly individuals and individuals with chronic illness have reduced exposure to bright light.

Physical and mental activity stimulates the alerting and wakefulness centers in the brain and increase blood and oxygen flow to the brain. Most importantly, maintaining good sleep and wake habits can improve many sleep issues without the need of medications.

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