Parkinson’s Care and Support UK does not recommend taking sleeping pills. These are short term solutions and can often make you feel awful and tired the next day. They also often result in dependency, which is the last things you want.
Author of Overcoming insomnia and sleep problems, Professor Colin Espie and leading authority on sleep at the University of Oxford, offers his five top tips for a great night’s sleep.
1. Don’t get caught napping!
If you have trouble sleeping, you may feel tempted to catch up on sleep by taking naps. However, unless you’re feeling dangerously sleepy (while driving or operating machinery, for instance), this usually does more harm than good as it makes it more difficult to sleep at night. If you feel tired during the day, get up and take a walk around, get some fresh air, or do something challenging for a short while, like a crossword or a Sudoku.
2. If you’re not tired, get up.
If you’re finding it difficult to get to sleep, don’t just lie there worrying. Get up for a few minutes and get a drink (no sugar or caffeine, remember!), and go back to bed when you’refeeling a bit sleepier.
3. Set yourself a ‘get fit’ plan.
Eating healthily and getting regular exercise are great ways of helping yourself sleep better. However, plan your meals and exercise to avoid exercising or eating a big meal after mid-evening: doing either of these too close to your bedtime can stop you from sleeping.
4. Don’t stress it!
Thinking about sleep too much or trying to force yourself to sleep will only keep you awake. Learning how to relax both your body and mind instead will help you to get to sleep much more easily. Parkinson’s Care and Support UK offers free weekly Mindfulness Yoga, which can help with insomnia and anxiety.
5. Keep a sleep diary.
The amount of noise, light, and distractions, what and when you eat, and the temperature of your bedroom can affect how well you sleep. Keeping a sleep diary to make a note of what the conditions were when you went to bed the night before can be useful for letting you look back and see what has and what hasn’t worked for you. It also helps you to see how your sleep varies from night to night, and might help you note patterns in your sleeping.