Movements during night-time


More than half of all patients with Parkinson’s disease have problems during their sleep. In her presentation, Parkinson’s research nurse Alexandra Schweicher gives an overview on common problems patients might encounter and suggests some potential solutions.

The consequences of a poor sleep can have severe effect on the daily life. Reduced physical activity, impaired concentration and emotional disbalance are only a few of the possible causes.

When the level of medication in the blood decreases (the so-called off-phase), which may occur during night-time, the symptoms of Parkinson’s worsen. This often leads to an increasing stiffness, tremor and pain which makes it very difficult for the patients to get up or even move in their beds.

“Thus, it is important to control the patient’s off-phases by a personalised medication plan,” Mrs. Schweicher explains in her video. “In addition to medical treatment, practical exercises to train movement or adaptation of the surrounding to the personal needs of the patient can help.”

For instance, handles can be installed to make it easier for patients to rise up in bed. Also, additional lights and removal of carpets may help to ensure a safe getting up and reduce the risk of falling due to an impaired vision.

Additionally, patients are recommended to establish a daily routine and to practice the required movements in arrangement with their physiotherapists. “A regular physical activity can counteract the stiffness of the muscles and contribute to a better muscular strength,” Mrs. Schweicher points out.

In addition to the explaining general problems and strategies for solution, she also explains in her talk a particular sleep disorder which is currently under investigation within the study. A distortion of the so called rapid-eye-movement (REM) phase during sleep is thought to be a risk factor for the development of Parkinson’s disease. A national cohort is currently being formed in Luxemburg to further investigate this REM sleep disorder.

The full presentation of Alexandra Schweicher with further information and detailed explanations can be viewed in the video (in German).