Category: Sleep problems


Almost everyone has heard about the importance of getting enough vitamin D to maintain good bone density and strength. One side of the health coin suggests spending time outside absorbing direct sunshine, while the other side warns about too much exposure and the very real concern of developing skin cancer. When blood tests reveal low vitamin D levels, physicians often prescribe vitamin D in pill form.

Quoting from an article released in the August 2019 Parkinson’s News Today:

“Some studies support that lack of vitamin D results in a greater risk of falls and fractures in Parkinson’s patients, which can increase hospitalization and even fatal disability. Its levels also have been associated with cognition and mood, as well as stomach malfunction in people with the disease. …People with lower vitamin D levels were more likely to fall and experience sleep problems, including difficulty in falling asleep (insomnia). They also had significantly more depression and anxiety.” 

Read more here about the effect of low vitamin D levels on Parkinson’s non-motor symptoms. Discussions with one’s doctor, including requests for blood tests to monitor vitamin D levels, are another potential add-on life-management tool.


Zebra Fish

Excerpting from a June 19, 2019 Parkinson’s News Today article by Catarina Silva: According to a study of zebra fish, not getting enough sleep may cause memory defects and emotional changes due to changes in dopamine metabolism. (Sleep Deprivation Caused Memory Defects and Emotional Changes in a Rotenone-based Zebra fish Model of Parkinson’s Disease”, published in Behavioural Brain Research.)

Researchers wrote: “In addition to cognitive and emotional disorders, sleep abnormalities are also prevalent in Parkinson’s disease. The problem of sleep is not only the characteristics of the disease itself, but also related to medication and dyskinesia such as tremor and rigidity.”

Sleep is an essential physiological process, and lack or shortage of sleep time causes fatigue, increase of mood swings, and can affect learning and memory. Some studies have shown that sleep deprivation can result in emotional and cognitive impairments.

A team of Chinese researchers investigated the effects of sleep deprivation on locomotor activity, memory and emotional behavior in a zebrafish model of Parkinson’s disease. To understand how tiny fish are helping with research for a cure, read more here


New Fact Sheets Are Available!

The Parkinson’s Foundation has a free library with the latest Parkinson’s disease (PD) related information. To view the following topics and many more – Seeking a Specialist, Physical Therapy, Depression, Intimacy, Impulse Control, Non-drug options, Anxiety, Fatigue or Apathy – click here.


“Strategy without execution
is the slowest route to victory,
and tactics without strategy
is the noise before defeat.”
―Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu was a Chinese general, military strategist, writer, and philosopher who lived in the Eastern Zhou period of ancient China. Sun Tzu is traditionally credited as the author of The Art of War, a widely influential work of military strategy that has affected both Western and East Asian philosophy and military thinking.

When your strategy for holding Parkinson’s symptoms at bay is – “I’ll plan for exercise, education, and socialization with others to manage my Parkinson’s” – but then none of it is put into action, Parkinson’s gains another life-robbing victory in the war.

The Parkinson’s Fitness team is here to provide BOTH the strategies and the ways to execute them that fit YOUR abilities! We have a whole variety of classes and programs that address the many challenges Parkinson’s symptoms create. TRY ANY OR ALL OF THEM! Click here for days, times and locations.



The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep for adults aged 18 to 64, and 7 to 8 hours for those older than 65.

An article in the February/March 2017 issue of Neurology Now magazine about the importance of getting adequate sleep and its affects on the brain relates that sleep “allows the brain a chance to do some much-needed housekeeping”. According to Jennifer Rose Molano, MD, FAAN, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, when we’re sleeping, our brain’s glymphatic system clears waste products that clog the brain by releasing cerebrospinal fluid that flushes toxins out.

So, overall, what can we do to promote better sleep?

The 2012 journal Sleep stated that people – especially women – with insomnia who exercise in the morning rather than in the evening averaged 70 percent better sleep. Dr. Beth Malow, professor of neurology and director of the Vanderbilt Sleep Division at Vanderbilt University in Nashville reports that researchers speculate that morning exercise sets the body’s clock for a day of activity and a night of sleep.

Avoid afternoon caffeine after 3 PM, whether from coffee, caffeinated teas, dark chocolate, or diet drinks.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine recommends eating a light dinner high in fiber and low in saturated fat.

Cool the bedroom temperature. If the room is too warm, it can interfere with the body’s natural temperature dip and promote restlessness throughout the night. Setting the thermostat around 68 degrees helps create an optimum atmosphere.

Avoid watching television, using the computer, reading a back-lit e-book, or using the telephone for 90 minutes before going to bed. The blue light emitted from an e-book suppresses melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone. When lying wide awake or restless in bed for approximately 20 minutes, leave the bedroom and do another relaxing activity in another room such as reading or listening to soothing music until feeling sleepy again.

Avoid over-the-counter sleep aids that contain diphenhydramine and doxylamine. Older adults who regularly use these drugs show more memory problems and appear to have a higher risk of dementia, according to an Indiana University study published in JAMA Neurology last April. NEVER USE SOMEONE ELSE’S PRESCRIPTION SLEEP AID!


Sleep Problems Helped by Regular Exercise

March 10, 2014

We had a great speaker at the Marblehead Parkinson’s support group meeting this week!

Cathi Thomas, a registered nurse and coordinator of the APDA Mass Chapter Information and Referral Center at Boston University Medical Center, spoke about Parkinson’s sleep disorders. Cathi and Dr. Joseph Friedman, highly respected for his work with Parkinson’s  and author of Making the Connection Between Brain & Behavior (2nd edition, 2013), presented valuable information at the World Parkinson’s Congress in Montreal, Canada, in October, 2013 that our own Keith and Linda Hall attended. But what do sleep disorders and exercise have to do with one another?

At the support meeting in Marblehead, Cathi reviewed two case studies and treatment approaches from the Montreal presentation.  Interestingly, from our perspective, at the top of the recommended sleep hygiene list was “exercise during the day”, as well as “exercise regularly and with specificity”.

If you’re experiencing trouble with sleep, please remember to explore the idea of some type of regular exercise as part of a treatment approach.