Papa’s nocturnal horror arouses curiosity about sleep disorders with PD

“Mary Beth, you should write an article about night horrors.” My father’s text message lit up on my cell phone one morning.

“Why are you feeling this way? Is that something you are struggling with?” I replied.

My father went on to explain 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 was punching his brother and when he woke up he found that he was boxing the air. No one was harmed in this particular incident, but when I heard this, I was concerned that someone might be injured.

It wasn’t long before my father brought this symptom to the attention of his doctor. She told him a low dose of melatonin might help, but my father isn’t sure yet if it does.

Literature recommendations

Curious about the prevalence of this Parkinson’s symptom, I began investigating reported sleep incidents. It seems my dad isn’t the only person with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) struggling with night terrors. In fact, a 2012 article published in Parkinson’s Disease magazine stated that “Sleep disorders, which include sleep fragmentation, daytime sleepiness, sleep-related breathing disorders, restless legs syndrome (RLS), nightmares, and rapid eye movement (REM), include behavioral disorder (RBD) an estimated 60 to 98% of patients with Parkinson’s disease. “

Most people imagine tremors or stiffness when they picture Parkinson’s disease, but many other symptoms are too. Based on the above article, it appears that the majority of people with Parkinson’s are struggling with some type of sleep disorder.

My father always struggled to sleep soundly. For most of his life, he thought it was just the way it works. But as we learn more about Parkinson’s, we wonder if this symptom was an early sign of my father’s condition.

Some people have mentioned jerking movements when falling or waking up on the Parkinson’s News Today forums. My parents are currently worried that my father could live out dreams because it could put my mother at risk.

I know some Parkinson’s patients to sleep in separate bedrooms when navigating night terrors because it eliminates the risk of accidentally beating up their partner. My parents don’t yet feel they need to, but I wonder if this particular symptom is going to get worse. The disorder seems terrifying to both of them. It remains to be seen whether medication or lifestyle changes will help my parents safely navigate this dilemma.

Have you struggled with night terrors or other sleep disorders? Please share your experience in the comments below.


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is a news and information site about the disease only. It does not provide medical advice, or diagnosis treatment. This content is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or advice treatment. Always contact your doctor or other qualified health care provider with questions about any medical condition. Never disregard or hesitate to seek 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 are designed to stimulate discussion on topics related to Parkinson’s disease.

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