Recently, a number of people have raised this issue with me. They ask about how does one sleep with Parkinson’s…”the tremors rage when I lay down,” “I get pains in my legs in the middle of the night,” “my toes curl and cramp and have spasms and it keeps me up half the night.” I went back and found an entry I posted about a year ago, and I believe it answers all of the questions, so I am re-posting it here.
From my April 29, 2010 blog post Fighting Parkinson’s, and sleep:
“My family can vouch for me — pre-Parkinson’s, I was a sleep expert. I could go to sleep anywhere at any time. I was so good at it, I could go to sleep mid-sentence, yours or mine, I did not discriminate. At nighttime, I went to sleep as my head hit the pillow.
Parkinson’s changed all of that. It is the tremors. There is a common misconception about internal Parkinson’s tremors, one that I had all those years watching my mother. The tremors are on the inside, but what most of us associate with tremors is the awkward outward movement we see with Michael J. Fox and what I saw with my mother. That is called Dyskinesia, and as it relates to Parkinson’s, it is a side effect of Parkinson’s medications.
My tremors are inside, and they are most noticeable (to me, nobody else would know I have them) when I am sitting still or laying down. My entire body vibrates/shakes on the inside. When I am moving, though, I am not really paying attention to them and they seem to disappear. It still fascinates me how this occurs. I can stop typing right now and sit still, and then I feel them very strongly. However, when I look at my hands or arms, there is no visible movement on the outside. That’s the best I can explain my tremors.
When I first noticed tremors and realized I had Parkinson’s, laying down to go to sleep became a nightmare — the tremors were raging, and I did not believe I would have the fortitude to fight this disease if I had to face these tremors at bedtime. Sally saved me.
Sally got out our Integrative Acupressure book, and it recommended acupressure on a large portion of the Governing Vessel (GV) Meridian for help with Parkinson’s. For those of you unfamiliar with the GV Meridian, the recommended acupressure begins at the coccyx and goes up the spine all the way to the midpoint at the top of the head. The GV Meridian is longer than that section, but that section (GV2-GV20) was recommended for Parkinson’s. Here is a look at the full GV Meridian, http://www.yinyanghouse.com/acupuncturepoints/governingvessel_meridian_graphic.
Every night, Sally performs this acupressure on me and it is a most incredible thing. As she is performing the acupressure, I feel electrical charges from my spine go down my legs to my feet and toes, and I feel electrical charges move across my back, arms, neck and head. The tremors cease to exist, momentarily, and I go to sleep within a minute or two. Most mornings, I awake in the same position I was laying when I fell asleep. I sleep soundly, and except for the occasional night when I wake up needing to use the bathroom, I sleep through the night with no problems.
I have read about Parkinson’s sufferers having many issues relating to sleep, some from the disease and some from the side effects of the Parkinson’s medications. I am one of the fortunate ones. The GV Meridian acupressure allows me to sleep with no adverse sleeping issues and it allows me to continue this fight against Parkinson’s drug free.”
If you have toe curling and/or toe cramps or spasms and you do not have anybody to assist you with the GV Acupressure, try laying on your stomach and lightly pressing a finger or two on GV2, your coccyx, and then massage it in circles lightly for a minute or two. I have received many reports that this has solved the problem, and for some people, it has been solved within a day. Please let us know how it works for you.
All my best,