Parkinson’s disease may make people feel exhausted and make it difficult to concentrate. This can make everyday tasks more challenging.

Many people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) experience fatigue. Motor symptoms can make it difficult and tiring to carry out everyday tasks. PD medications may also cause drowsiness. Problems with sleep and depression are also common in PD, which may contribute to fatigue.

With PD fatigue, people may feel mentally or physically exhausted but not sleepy. People may have difficulty concentrating and low energy, productivity, motivation, or desire to socialize.

This article looks at fatigue with PD, symptoms and causes, treatments, and sleeping tips.

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Parkinson’s fatigue feels like extreme tiredness that makes carrying out regular, daily activities difficult. People may experience physical or mental tiredness or both.

Fatigue is not the same as the tiredness people may feel after a long day of work, and it is not the same as feeling sleepy. People with fatigue may find it difficult to sleep.

With Parkinson’s fatigue, people may experience:

  • difficulty concentrating
  • reduced stamina
  • problems with memory
  • productivity issues
  • loss of energy or motivation for social situations
  • anxiety
  • depression

Sometimes, fatigue does not ease with rest, and people may feel they lack energy or feel run down.

Although fatigue is common with PD, experts are still unsure of the exact cause. It may be due to a combination of factors, such as:

  • Physical changes: Changes in the brain that cause the motor symptoms of PD may also contribute to fatigue, although the severity of PD symptoms may not link to the severity of fatigue.
  • Medications: Certain PD medications may contribute to fatigue. Dopamine agonists may cause fatigue and daytime sleepiness.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: A lack of physical activity may increase fatigue.
  • Akinesia: Akinesia is the inability to move the muscles voluntarily, which can be tiring, as it requires more effort to carry out everyday activities.
  • Muscle fatigue: Muscle stiffness and tremor can fatigue the muscles. A lack of muscle movement can also reduce muscle strength and stamina.
  • Activity levels and mobility: People’s mobility may change throughout the day with PD, depending on when someone takes their medication. Moving may be tiring, and excess activity during periods of better mobility may lead to fatigue.
  • Sleep disorders: People with PD may experience sleep issues, leading to fatigue or daytime sleepiness.
  • Depression: At least half of people may experience depression at some point with PD, which can cause fatigue.

Read more about depression and PD.

If people experience fatigue, they can talk with a doctor. A doctor can carry out a physical exam and any medical tests to check for other health issues that may be causing fatigue, such as:

Resolving any underlying issues may help treat fatigue. If there are no other identifiable causes, the following strategies may help to ease Parkinson’s fatigue:

  • Medication changes: People can talk with a doctor to see if PD medications may be causing fatigue. A doctor may reduce a dosage while ensuring the medication still controls motor symptoms.
  • Exercise: Getting daily physical activity and exercising for at least 2.5 hours per week may help relieve fatigue. Exercise also helps to strengthen muscles, which may improve stamina and reduce fatigue.
  • Plan activity around periods of better mobility: People may find it easier to move after taking their medication, so planning activities around this may help reduce fatigue. Pacing activity and allowing rest periods may help prevent fatigue from excess activity.
  • Treating depression and anxiety: Treating any mental health issues may help treat fatigue. People can discuss treatments, such as counseling and medications, with a doctor.

Ensuring good quality sleep may help ease fatigue and make people feel better. The following tips may help to improve sleep with PD:

  • keeping to a regular sleep schedule every day by getting up and going to bed at similar times
  • creating a bedtime routine to wind down around an hour before sleep, which includes turning off electronic devices and focusing on calming activities, such as taking a warm bath
  • avoiding any activities other than sleep and intimacy in the bed, as this helps teach the body to sleep when in bed
  • avoiding napping too close to bedtime, as it may disrupt sleep
  • avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the afternoon or evening, as it can impair sleep
  • avoiding strenuous exercise late in the evening, as it may make it harder to fall asleep
  • limiting fluid intake before bed, as it may increase the need to get up during the night to use the bathroom

If people are still having sleep difficulties, they can talk with a doctor about other treatments, such as medications, to help with sleep.

Does Parkinson’s fatigue go away?

If fatigue occurs with PD, it usually develops within the first few years of the condition and does not usually go away, but it can come and go. Various strategies can help treat and manage fatigue and improve quality of life.

What is the fatigue severity scale for Parkinson’s?

The Parkinson Fatigue Scale, or PFS-16, is a questionnaire to measure the severity of fatigue with PD. There are 16 questions people answer, which produces a score between 1 and 5 for each answer.

The average score for the questionnaire shows the level of fatigue. A person may have fatigue if the score is above 3.3.

Fatigue can be common with PD and may occur due to motor symptoms, medications, sleep issues, or depression.

Getting regular exercise, following good sleep habits, and treating any mental health issues may improve a person’s energy levels.

People can also talk with a doctor to discuss altering medication and to check for any other causes of fatigue.