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Dementia: Sleeping and the broken brain

Dementia can be aggravated by poor sleep, and dementia symptoms can disrupt sleep.

dementia and sleep

Dementia is defined by the Medical Dictionary as “The loss, usually progressive, of cognitive and intellectual functions, without impairment of perception or consciousness; caused by a variety of disorders, (structural or degenerative) but most commonly associated with structural brain disease.”

The disorders most associated with dementia include Alzheimer’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, Parkinsonism, vascular dementia, and Lewy Body Dementia. In each case, a significant relationship exists between disordered sleep and the dementia disorder.

SHC has pulled together a fairly comprehensive sampling of links to articles, blogs, research studies, and more addressing the sleep-related challenges that people with dementia face.

Sleep and dementia: A curation

APR 17: The Sunrise Blog
Sleep and dementia: What’s the connection?
From the blog: “A study led by researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine found that adults who slept longer than 9 hours every night, consistently, were more likely to develop all-cause dementia and clinical Alzheimer’s disease.”

APR 12: Neurology Advisor
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Affects Cognition in Parkinson’s Disease
From the article: “Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) is linked to higher levels of sleepiness and lower cognitive function scores, according to results published in Neurology.”

APR 6: The Daily Cal
UC Berkeley researchers find sleep disruption may lead to memory loss, dementia in elderly
From the article: “While UC Berkeley students may be notorious for staying up studying and messing up their sleep schedules, according to a study recently published by campus researchers, such sleeping habits could be detrimental to brain health if continued later in life.”

APR 3: Sleep Review
NeuroTrials Research Studying Link Between Sleep and Parkinson’s Disease
From the article: “Experts estimate 30% to 50% of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) are excessively sleepy during the day, severely affecting their quality of life. What’s unclear is if their sleepiness is because of the disease or because of their medication.”

MAR 25: Star2
There’s a type of dementia (aside from Alzheimer’s) you need to know about
From the article: “…people who have Lewy body dementia also may experience a sleep condition known as REM sleep behaviour disorder, in which people act out their dreams while they sleep.”

MAR 23: Sleep Review
New Research for REM Sleep Behavior Disorder in Lewy Body Dementia
From the article: “REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD) is estimated to occur in 80% of dementia with Lewy bodies patients and 37% of idiopathic Parkinson’s disease patients. The relationship of RBD to dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease dementia puts sleep centers in the position to make (or miss) the early diagnosis of these serious diseases.”

FEB 28: Michael J. Fox Foundation blog, FoxFeed
Trial to Test Therapy for Excessive Daytime Sleepiness in Parkinson’s Opens
From the blog: “Jazz Pharmaceuticals recently announced a Phase II trial to test a therapy for excessive daytime sleepiness in people with Parkinson’s disease (PD).”

FEB 25: Alzforum
A Change in Sleep Habits from Normal to Long: Harbinger of Dementia?
From the article: “Wake up, sleepyhead—your risk of dementia may have just doubled. According to a study published February 22 in Neurology, people who slumber for more than nine hours per night have twice the risk of dementia as people who sleep for just six to nine hours.”

JAN 2017: Neurobiology of Sleep and Circadian Rhythms
Circadian dysregulation in Parkinson’s disease
From the research study: “Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder that affects over one million individuals in the US alone. …A growing body of evidence points to significant alterations of the circadian system in PD.”

DEC 15, 2016: Scientific American
Why Sleep Disorders May Precede Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
From the article: “When the body’s biological clock goes awry, insomnia and related disruptions may be an early sign of pending cognitive decline.”

DEC 7, 2016: Knowridge Science Report
Jet lag-like sleep disruptions spur Alzheimer’s memory, learning loss
From the article: “Clinical application of this finding may lead to more emphasis on managing the sleep habits of people at risk for Alzheimer’s disease and those with mild cognitive impairment.”

DEC 7, 2016: Sound Sleep Health
Sleep and its impact on dementia
From the article: “Sleep changes are more common in later stages of dementia, though some studies have found they can also occur in early stages.”

NOV 27, 2016: Bel Marra Health
National Alzheimer’s Disease Month: Alzheimer’s early signs, hallucinations, sleep disorders, and eating disorders
From the article: “You may be wondering, why Alzheimer’s disease and sleep disorders coexist. It mainly has to do with Alzheimer’s disrupting a patient’s sleep-wake cycle.”

NOV 18, 2016: MPR
Drug Therapy Guidance for Sleep Disorders in Dementia Lacking
From the article: “A Cochrane systematic review has found a clear lack of evidence in the pharmacologic guidance of sleep problems in dementia. ”

NOV 10, 2016: American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Rotigotine may be an effective treatment for REM Sleep Behavior Disorder in Parkinson Disease
From the article: “Sleep deprivation was found to speed up Alzheimer’s pathology, which means that sleep deprivation may act as a trigger of tau phosphorylation.”

OCT 16, 2016: McKnight’s
Antidepressants interrupt seniors’ sleep, may raise dementia risk
From the article: “[Dr.] Tahir’s team found that SSRIs interrupted seniors’ sleep patterns and increased the risk for rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep disorders. These disorders often leave the body agitated during sleep, and can serve as an early sign of neurodegeneration that eventually progresses to dementia.”

OCT 14, 2016: Bel Marra Health
Alzheimer’s disease, dementia progression and onset linked to chronic sleep disturbances, poor sleep quality
From the article: “Alzheimer’s disease and dementia progression and onset are linked to chronic sleep disturbances. Study lead Domenico Praticò explained, ‘The big biological question that we tried to address in this study is whether sleep disturbance is a risk factor to develop Alzheimer’s or is it something that manifests with the disease.’ ”

SEPT 2, 2016: MedicalXPress
Lack of sleep and untreated depression may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
From the article: “New research suggests that lack of sleep and untreated depression may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, even for those who do not have a genetic predisposition for the disease.”

AUG-SEPT 2016: Neurology Now
Is Parkinson’s disease associated with sleep apnea?
From the article: “Studies do not show that sleep apnea is any more common in people with Parkinson’s disease than in those without it. However, other sleep disturbances are associated with the condition.”

MAY 15, 2016: Journal of the Neurological Sciences
Subjective sleep problems in Huntington’s disease: A pilot investigation of the relationship to brain structure, neurocognitive, and neuropsychiatric function
From the research study: “Neuropsychiatric symptoms are more severe in Huntington’s disease individuals with sleep problems.”

APR 26, 2016: Glo Knows Why
Managing dementia sleep problems
From the website: “There are a few other things you can do to try to lessen any dementia sleep problems that may be occurring.”

APR 26, 2016: Light-Therapy.net
Light Therapy & Huntington’s Disease
From the website: “In recent studies of Huntington’s Disease, scientists have discovered that there are other non-motor symptoms that are associated with the disease. These symptoms are related to sleep and circadian rhythm abnormalities. This is where light therapy comes into play.”

MAR 13, 2015: Experimental & Molecular Medicine
Sleep, circadian rhythms, and the pathogenesis of Alzheimer Disease
From the research study: “Disturbances in the sleep–wake cycle and circadian rhythms are common symptoms of Alzheimer Disease (AD), and they have generally been considered as late consequences of the neurodegenerative processes. Recent evidence demonstrates that sleep–wake and circadian disruption often occur early in the course of the disease and may even precede the development of cognitive symptoms.”

OCT 3, 2014: Journal of Alzheimers Disease and Parkinsonism
Effect of Donepezil on Sleep and Activity in Alzheimer’s Disease: Actigraphic and Polysomnographic Assessment
From the research study: “As a result of treating ATD patients with donepezil, the percentage of REM sleep and sleep efficiency were increased and daytime activity and diurnal activity were also increased, and nocturnal activity is decreased. Furthermore, our study demonstrated a correlation between the increase of daytime activity and improvement of cognition.”

FEB 3, 2013: HDBuzz
HDBuzz Special Feature: Huntington’s disease and sleep
From the website: “Why do many Huntington’s disease patients have trouble sleeping, and what can be done about it?”

MAY 2001: American Journal of Psychiatry
Sundowning and circadian rhythms in Alzheimer’s disease
From the article: ” ‘Sundowning’ is the occurrence or exacerbation of behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in the afternoon and evening.”

NO DATE: National Sleep Foundation
Sleep Loss Precedes Alzheimer’s Symptoms
From the website: 
“Sleep is disrupted in people who likely have early Alzheimer’s disease but do not yet have the memory loss or other cognitive problems characteristic of full-blown disease, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report March 11 in JAMA Neurology.”

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