Sleep Issues in PD

Brain changes that are part of Parkinson's disease (PD) can also cause sleep difficulties.  Some people have sleep problems even before movement symptoms appear and PD is diagnosed.  When a person with PD has disrupted sleep, their caregiver's sleep is also disrupted, impacting quality of life for both.  Here are some resources to understand sleep issues in PD and how to cope with it.


Downloadable Documents | Online Articles | Podcasts & Webinars


Downloadable Documents (PDF)

Sleep: A Mind Guide to Parkinson’s Disease

Published by the Parkinson’s Foundation, 2018

This 36-page booklet (PDF) explains normal sleep patterns, the body clock, how much sleep we should get, challenges to sleeping well, tips for good sleep hygiene, and sleep in normal aging before discussing symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders, including insomnia, REM sleep behavior disorder, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and daytime sleepiness. 


Sleep and Night-time Problems in Parkinson's

Publshed by Parkinson's UK, September 2012

This 28-page booklet (PDF) examines the causes of and treatments for sleep problems in PD. Available in PDF and Word.


Online Articles

Parkinson’s Disease and Sleep

Reviewed by David Rye, MD, and Mark Mahowald, MD.  Published by the National Sleep Foundation

This web article offers a detailed description of Parkinson’s disease and the challenges it presents to restorative rest and recuperation. Some suggestions are included for improving sleep and the environment around sleeping.


Sleep Problems

By Johan Samanta, MD, PC.  Published by the American Parkinson Disease Association

On this short webpage, a neurologist describes sleep problems experienced by Parkinson’s patients and medications that can help with symptoms. 


REM sleep behavior disorder

Published by Mayo Clinic, July 2014

Overview of REM sleep behavior disorder, sometimes experienced by those with PD. Overview considers risk factors, causes, symptoms, and treatments.


Sleep and Parkinson’s Disease

Published by UCSF Parkinson’s Disease Clinic and Research Center, 2014

Describes of the sleep-wake cycle, circadian rhythms, and sleep issues specific to Parkinson’s disease. Also covers behavioral and medication changes that can help improve sleep.


Sleep and Parkinson’s Disease

Published by the Stanford PD Community Blog, February 12, 2020

The Palo Alto Parkinson’s Disease support group February 2020 meeting featured Dr. Emmanuel During, a Stanford sleep medicine neurologist.  During the meeting, Dr. During discusses sleep disturbances that can occur in PD, such as insomnia, restles legs syndrome, sleep apnea, and REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), along with available treatments.  There's a question and answer session.


Sleep Disorders

Published by the National Parkinson Foundation (Now the Parkinson's Foundation)

This page discusses the most common sleep issues for people with Parkinson's disease, tips for better sleep, treating excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep apnea and REM sleep behavior disorder.


Why is it So Hard to Sleep Now That I Have Parkinson’s?

Published by the Davis Phinney Foundation, January 3, 2017

This blog post discusses how Parkinson’s can affect sleep, causes of sleep problems in Parkinson’s, medications that improve sleep, and other ways to improve sleep as well as a brief explanation of REM sleep behavior disorder.


Podcasts & Webinars

Getting Your Best Sleep with Parkinson’s

By Partners in Parkinson’s, April 13, 2016 (Now available through the Michael J. Fox Foundation)

This 1-hour webinar includes an interview of a person with Parkinson’s disease, a movement disorders specialist, and a sleep sciences specialist.  They discuss sleep disorders associated with Parkinson’s disease, the difference between those that are a symptom the disease or a side-effect of medication, and how to treat them and live your best life with a sleep disorder.  [Registration is required, but is free.]


Good Night: Sleep and Parkinson’s Disease

By the American Parkinson Disease Association, West Coast Parkinson’s Educational Forum, October 2018

Lack of good sleep can worsen Parkinson’s symptoms.  In this 45-minute lecture, Dr. Rafael Zuzuárregui addresses causes of sleep loss and the latest treatments for: insomnia, restless leg syndrome, REM sleep behavior disorder, nocturnal urination, hallucinations, wearing off of medication, dystonia and sleep apnea.


Living Well With REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

By the Davis Phinney Foundation, October 13, 2018

In this 20-minute podcast Kelsey Phinney talks her mother, Connie Carpenter Phinney, and movement disorder specialist, Benzi Kluger, about how critical sleep is for people with Parkinson’s, how REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) can impact relationships and different ways to manage it.


My Parkinson’s Story: Sleep Problems and Parkinson’s Disease

By the Veterans Health Administration, February 2013

This 8-minute video describes one couple’s struggle with Parkinson’s-related nightmares and an overview of the types of sleep disturbances that may be experienced by those with PD. Methods of treatment are addressed.


Sleep and Parkinson’s

By the Davis Phinney Foundation, May 18, 2020

In this 1-hour webinar movement disorders specialist, Dr. Ronald Postuma discusses the types of sleep issues commonly seen in PD and measures that can help to mitigate them.
Webinar notes on the Stanford PD Community Blog


Sleep and Parkinson’s

By the Parkinson’s Foundation, June 13, 2017

This 1-hour webinar by neurologist Aleksandar Videnovic explains that problems with sleep and alertness may, or may not, be caused by Parkinson’s disease.  Nocturnal sleep disturbances discussed include causes, diagnosis, safety risks and treatment (including light therapy) of sleep fragmentation, REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), restless leg syndrome (RLS), sleep apnea, excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS).


Sleep and PD

By the Journal of Parkinson's Disease, March 6, 2020

This 1-hour panel discussion coveres what "sleep" is from a medical standpoint, how sleep can be disrupted in PD, whether sleep deprivation/disturbances can impact other symptoms of PD, sleep disorders as a predictor of neurodegenerative diseases, and whether sleep disorders are driving or are a trigger of PD.


Sleep Disorders in Parkinson’s Disease

By the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s, June 18, 2013

In this 17-minute lecture Dr Gary Leo discuses sleep challenges caused by the neurochemical changes, medications and mood disturbances of Parkinson’s disease, and normal changes of aging.  He discusses possible causes and treatment options of sleep maintenance insomnia, REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, daytime sleepiness, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome, ending with some tips for good sleep.


Sleep Disturbances in Parkinson’s Disease

By the UCSF Conference on Parkinson’s Disease, November 13, 2010

In this half hour lecture Dr. Graham Glass discusses common sleep and fatigue issues in Parkinson’s disease, their causes  and treatments.  [There is an 24 second audio loss at the 11:00 time stamp.]


Sleep Problems and Parkinson's Disease

By the Veteran's Administration

This 8-minute video alternates between an interview with a vet and his wife and a doctor. The vet shares how he thought his REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) was PTSD nightmares. The doctor explains RBD, safety precautions and medications that can minimize RBD symptoms.


What are the common sleep disorders encountered in patients with PD?

By the National Parkinson Foundation (Now the Parkinson's Foundation), February 19, 2010

In this 8-minute video, Dr. Tanya Simuni gives an overview of sleep related problems and why they may be more common in people with Parkinson’s disease. She defines terms and encourages listeners to discuss treatment options and symptom management with a neurologist.



Last updated August 2020 by Stanford Parkinson's Community Outreach.