Planning for the What-Ifs, Part Five: Sleep Disorders & Advanced Parkinson’s Disease
Today we continue Parkinson’s Disease: Planning for the What-Ifs, a special series of posts to address both motor and non-motor issues of people with advanced Parkinson’s disease (PD). We are defining advanced PD as those who are no longer independent in their activities of daily living and require help for their self-care such as eating, bathing, dressing and toileting. Remember, PD is a very variable condition and many never reach the advanced stages. Additional background and the full introduction to the series is still available if you missed it.
In previous blogs, we’ve addressed the mental health issues in relation to advanced PD which include: cognitive decline/dementia, depression, anxiety, apathy, psychosis, mania and behavioral problems. We also addressed other topics of advanced PD including falls, extreme immobility, and drooling and swallowing difficulties and urinary and gastro-intestinal issues.
Today we will focus on sleep issues in advanced PD.
Sleep and Parkinson’s Disease
There are many sleep disorders that are associated with PD and that can be problematic throughout the disease course. These include:
Rapid eye movement (REM) behavior sleep disorder (RBD) – a sleep disorder in which the affected person is not paralyzed during dreaming (which is normally what occurs) and can therefore act out his/her dreams
Insomnia – an inability to fall asleep at the beginning of the night or in the middle of the night upon awakening
Restless leg syndrome – uncomfortable sensations, usually in the legs, which are temporarily relieved by movement of the legs
Sleep apnea – a disorder in which breathing stops and starts through the night, leading to periods of low oxygenation in the blood and frequent awakenings
Sleep fragmentation – brief arousals during sleep cause sleep to be less restful
PD medications can interfere with sleep by causing:
Nightmares and vivid dreams
Sleep attacks (falling asleep without warning)
Finally, there are motor and non-motor symptoms of PD that interfere with sleep. These include:
In addition to all the sleep issues listed above, people with PD often have fatigue, a complicated non-motor symptom of PD, characterized by a general lack of energy, which is sometimes present even in the face of what seems like intact and restful sleep. This can be due to many causes including PD medications, but can also be independent of medication use.
All of these sleep issues can continue to be problematic for the person with advanced PD. In addition, an extreme form of fatigue, or excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), can develop. EDS is defined as an inability to maintain wakefulness during the waking day which leads to lapses into drowsiness or sleep. Care partners often report that the person with PD will sleep for large parts of the day and care partners are not sure whether or how to intervene.
Possible causes of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness:
Poor nighttime sleep – all the sleep disorders and PD symptoms that interfere with sleep that were mentioned above can lead to non-restorative sleep at night. This can in turn lead to an overwhelming urge to sleep during the day
Medication side effect (both