December 11, 2010

Meditation for that 5 a.m. insomnia?

charter maldriverna

Several studies have reported that 55-60% of the people with Parkinson's suffer from insomnia.  Many, like me, experienced insomnia even before being diagnosed  (but while still having undiagnosed PD).  Others begin to have insomnia later, perhaps as a reaction to the carbidoba/levodopa meds or as a result of the vivid dreams that often occur with this drug.  Also as the disease progresses, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep -- the deep sleep -- wanes.

As I've noted in earlier posts, 5-HTP has helped me deal with the insomnia as well as the depression that accompanies PD.  As a result of a radical prostatectomy operation in 1995, I've been dealing with incontinence that has me getting up several times a night.  With 5-HTP, I get back to bed and fall asleep fairly quickly. But I sometimes have problems if the sleep interruption comes around 5 a.m.  I've talked with others with Parkinson's and with friends who also are contending with insomnia and  5 a.m. or thereabouts seems to be a particularly difficult time when it comes to getting back to sleep.

What I've been doing, and it works more often than not, is to meditate if I don't fall back to sleep within a reasonable time..  Much research and many studies have confirmed that meditation can be very helpful in dealing with both insomnia and depression. Also most recommendations on dealing with insomnia say that if you can't get to sleep within 5 or 10 minutes, rather than lie in bed and toss and turn, it's better to get out of bed and do something else (other than watching TV or surfing the web) for 15-30 minutes.  For me, meditation works best here, since it seems as relaxing and restorative as sleep itself and more often than not results in being able to get back to sleep.

How To Meditate

Many how-to books and articles are out there that suggest various techniques to use in meditation.  I've read many of these.  Most of them make it seem too intricate and complicated.  I recommend just following  the simple advice given by "the Parkinson's Guy" on this video:

BTW, the Parkinson's Guy got his "15 minutes of fame" when he showed up to counter protest at a Tea Party rally against the health reform bill last summer and was subjected to ridicule by the protesters.

He's right about meditation. Keep It Simple Stupid! -- Pay attention to a focal point -- monitor your breath and/or repeat a mantra with each breath and/or focus on an outside focal point such as a candle.  When your grasshopper mind bounces to other thoughts, don't think you've failed.  Just go back to your focal point.

Each individual eventually will work out a routine that works for them.  What I've come up with is described in the following post.

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