Sleep Apnea and Parkinson’s Disease

Connecting the dots for folks living with sleep apnea is to understand how to live the best quality of life possible. Managing your health and avoiding co-occurring conditions, or catching health issues early may minimize damage. Today I am looking at Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is caused due to the death of dopamine secreting neurons (nerve cells) in the brain and the exact cause of this damage is still unknown. There is not just an association between Parkinson’s and sleep apnea, but also the association exists between Parkinson’s and other sleep disorders. Some research has had scientists arrive at the conclusion that sleep apnea is one of the possible risk factors of Parkinson’s. It is no surprise there are some commonalities such as excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring and restless leg syndrome. One of the many side effects of Parkinson’s is interrupted sleep and nighttime disturbances.

People with Parkinson’s average about 5 hours sleep at night due to issues like insomnia, sleep fragmentation (frequently waking), bathroom trips along with the other physical issues.

Snoring is a side effect of sleep apnea and Parkinson’s. Research is not clear on the numbers but, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation, apnea is present in nearly forty percent of Parkinson’s patients. Some antidepressants are thought to trigger sleep apnea which may be prescribed to patients. Other airflow obstructions can also occur which limits the amount of oxygen to the brain already stressed from the disease. Central sleep apnea (CSA) is also linked to Parkinson’s disease because unlike an obstruction in the airway in OSA, CSA results in a miscommunication from the brain. The brain fails to signal the muscles in your respiratory system to breathe.

Signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s may include:

  • Tremors, trembling of hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face
  • Stiffness of the arms, legs, and trunk
  • Slowness of movement
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Speech difficulty


Sleep Problems in Parkinson’s | APDA
Sleep and Parkinson’s Disease | Parkinson’s Disease Clinic and Research Center (