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How does Parkinson's impact my sleep?

Sleep issues are prevalent among people with Parkinson's. In fact, changes in sleeping habits are often the first signs of Parkinson's. Fortunately, you can make changes to improve your ability to get the rest you need.


When it comes to optimal nutrition for sleep, most physicians and dieticians recommend watching what you eat and when you eat it, limiting your fluid intake in the evenings (especially alcohol and coffee), and limiting your sugar intake. Try to avoid heavy meals before bed. A light snack consisting mainly of complex carbohydrates and a small amount of protein such as peanut butter or crackers is thought to help your brain produce serotonin and increase tryptophan. carbohydrates cause the pancreases to release more insulin, which in turn helps tryptophan enter the brain. Valerian root and chamomile teas are both calming and touted to help sleep. Ask your physician before taking any supplements or herbs, including melatonin.


Increase your fluid intake to prevent dehydration. Eat breakfast, and  pay attention to the ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, and fat you are consuming. Aim for a balance of each of these food groups.

You may be tempted to snack on highly processed foods for energy, yet this can deplete your energy level. Simple sugars supply faster energy but can later lead to energy drain; the boosting effect of sugar lasts only 30 minutes. Instead, eat a balance of simple and complex carbohydrates. Healthy simple sugars for energy include fruits and honey. Complex sugars are found in whole wheat and grain products and starchy vegetables like peas and corn.

Eat smaller meals rather than big, heavy and fatty meals. Focus on eating energy-boosting foods such as almonds, walnuts, lentils, and oats. Drink caffeine (coffee, hot cholate, tea) in the morning, but avoid it later in the day. Finally, try chocolate. A small (one ounce) piece of dark chocolate can be an energy booster.

Disclaimer: The information contained in these Frequently Asked Questions have been sourced by reliable, research-based publications. It is to your discretion whether or not to incorporate the education and awareness as guidance into your wellness journey with Parkinson's. The Parkinson Association of Alabama cannot be held liable for the solutions you try, and you should always consult with medical experts before trying anything new or incorporating new matters into your overall wellness plan.


The Davis Phinney Foundation Parkinson's Nutrition Q&A. Parkinson's Treatments and Therapies. Every Victory Counts.  Page 195. "Manual." Sixth Edition, 2021.

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