Dad’s Night Terrors Prompt Curiosity About Sleep Disturbances With PD

“Mary Beth, you should write an article about night terrors.” One morning, my father’s text message flashed on my cell phone.

“Why do you feel that way? Is that something you struggle with?” I answered.

My father went on to say that he had a few incidents where he woke up in the middle of the night and almost hit my mother. In a dream he boxed his brother, and when he woke up he was boxing in the air. No one was hurt in this particular incident, but upon hearing this, I was concerned about the possibility of someone getting hurt.

It wasn’t long before my father brought this symptom to the attention of his doctor. She told him that a low dose of melatonin might help, but as of now my dad isn’t sure if that’s the case.

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Curious about the prevalence of this Parkinson’s symptom, I began investigating reported sleep episodes. It seems my father isn’t the only person with Parkinson’s disease (PD) struggling with night terrors. In fact, an article published in the magazine Parkinson’s disease found in 2012 that “sleep disorders, which include sleep fragmentation, daytime sleepiness, breathing disorders during sleep, restless legs syndrome (RLS), nightmares, and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD) are estimated to occur in 60% to 98% of Patients with Parkinson’s.”

Most people picture tremors or stiffness when they picture Parkinson’s disease, but many other symptoms are also common. Based on the article mentioned above, it seems like the majority of people with Parkinson’s struggle with some type of sleep disorder.

My father always had trouble sleeping soundly. For most of his life he thought it was just how it worked. But as we learn more about Parkinson’s, we wonder if this symptom was an early indication of my father’s condition.

Some people have mentioned jerky movements when falling asleep or waking up on the Parkinson’s News Today forums. My parents are currently concerned about my father acting out dreams because it could endanger my mother.

I know that some people with Parkinson’s prefer to sleep in separate bedrooms when navigating night terrors because it eliminates the risk of accidentally hitting their partner. My parents don’t feel the need to do this yet, but I wonder if this particular symptom will get worse. The break seems to come as a surprise to both of them. It remains to be seen if medication or lifestyle changes will help my parents safely navigate this dilemma.

Do you struggle with night terrors or other sleep disorders? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is solely a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with questions about any medical condition. Never disregard or delay in seeking professional medical advice because you have read something on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company BioNews and is intended to stimulate discussion on topics related to Parkinson’s disease.

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