20 ways to fight fatigue in Parkinson’s disease

Parkinsons_fatigueAbout two-thirds of people with Parkinson’s disease report that they feel fatigued or tired. Here are several suggestions for combating fatigue. Try one or several, depending upon your symptoms.

  1. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
  2. Ask your bed partner if you snore. You could have sleep apnea.
  3. Develop good sleep habits by going to bed and waking up at about the same time every day.
  4. Minimize bright screens (TV, iPads, cell phones, etc.) within 1-2 hours of going to bed.
  5. If you are getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, don’t drink water before bed.
  6. If you’re feeling sad, down, blue, worthless or hopeless, it’s time to talk with your doctor about depression. It’s very common and very treatable.
  7. Check your medication. If your fatigue comes at a certain time every day, it could be medication related. Talk with your doctor about this possibility.
  8. With Parkinson’s, a little is a lot. Do what you can. It will help you feel better.
  9. Exercise with a friend. Even taking a walk will make a difference.
  10. Pay for an exercise or water aerobics class. Sometimes investing in a class is enough motivation to go.
  11. Try physical therapy as a way to tune you up to function better.
  12. Try taking one short nap between 2-3 p.m. every day.
  13. Eat lots of vegetables and whole grains.
  14. Avoid starches, carbohydrates, processed sugar and sugary drinks. These can give you “highs” and “lows” during the day.
  15. Try healthy and mild sources of caffeine during the day—such as green tea. But avoid caffeine after 5 p.m.
  16. Don’t strive for perfection. Enjoy what you are able to do.
  17. Use your “on” times during the day to do what you like, whether it’s exercise, socializing or both.
  18. Realize that some of what you’re experiencing may be the result of getting a bit older—not a symptom of Parkinson’s.
  19. Do mental activities you enjoy.
  20. Have friends. It will make a world of difference.

Next steps

Dayalu HeadshotPraveen Dayalu, M.D., is an Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of Michigan. He cares for patients with a wide range of movement disorders and has ongoing research projects in multiple system atrophy, which mimics Parkinson’s Disease. He also directs the clinical training of our Movement Disorder Fellows and is very active with medical education at all levels.


Neurosciences logoThe University of Michigan’s multidisciplinary neuroscience team is made up of more than 70 nationally recognized neurologists, neuroanesthesiologists and neurosurgeons. Leading the way in brain, spine and nervous system care for close to 100 years; patients have access to services that can be found at only a handful of places; as well as innovative treatments with the latest research. Neurology and Neurosurgery at the University of Michigan Health System have been recognized by U.S. News & World Report numerous times for excellence in patient care.