Another systematic review noted 7-16% of young adults suffer from delayed sleep phase disorder. This disorder reaches peak prevalence when people are in their 20s. Between 20 and 26% of adolescents report a sleep onset latency of >30 minutes. Also, 7-36% have difficulty initiating sleep. Asian teens tend to have a higher prevalence of all of these adverse sleep outcomes than their North American and European counterparts.
At the same time, it has been shown that memory consolidation in long-term memory (which depends on the hippocampus) occurs during NREM sleep. This indicates that a decrease in the NREM sleep will result in less consolidation and therefore poorer memory performances in hippocampal-dependent long-term memory. This drop in performance is one of the central symptoms of AD.
Recent studies have also linked sleep disturbances, neurogenesis and AD. Indeed, it is now known that neurogenesis exists and that the subgranular zone and the subventricular zone keep on creating new neurons even in an adult brain. These new cells are then incorporated into neuronal circuits and interestingly, the supragranular zone is found in the hippocampus. These new cells will contribute to learning and memory and will play a role in the hippocampal-dependent memory.
As suggested by its name, PLMD is an involuntary movement disorder. (An older name, nocturnal myoclonus , is rarely used anymore.) People with this problem experience sudden, involuntary leg movements during the night, such as kicking or jerking. The difference between this and restless leg syndrome is that, unless the kicking wakes you up, you don't know you're doing it. You don't experience the tingling and discomfort that leads you to consciously move your legs, as with restless leg syndrome. At least 80 percent of people with restless leg syndrome have PLMD, but the reverse isn't true.
The decrease in the quantity and quality of the NREM SWS as well as the disturbances of sleep will therefore increase the AB plaques. This will first take place at the hippocampus level, from which memory is dependent. This will result in cell death at this level and will contribute to diminished memory performances and cognitive decline found in AD disease.
Although we do not know the causual relationship, we know that the more the AD progresses, the more we find sleep disorders. In the same way, the more sleep disorders there are, the more the disease progresses, forming a vicious circle. Taken this into account, sleep disturbances are no longer a symptom of AD and relationship between sleep disturbances and AD is bidirectional.
The effects of sleep disorders can be so disruptive that you will likely want immediate relief. Unfortunately, long-term cases can take a bit more time to resolve. However, if you stick with your treatment plan and regularly communicate with your doctor, you can eventually find your way to better sleep. You may also want to visit the National Sleep Foundation website for additional resources to share with your doctor.
There are many possible causes of restless legs syndrome, including kidney failure, nerve disorders, vitamin and iron deficiencies, pregnancy, and some medications (such as antidepressants). Recent studies have shown a strong genetic link and researchers have been able to isolate a gene that may be responsible for at least 40% of all cases of the disorder.
Recent studies, however, have shown that several factors can interrupt this neurogenesis. These include stress and prolonged sleep deprivation (more than one day). The sleep disturbances encountered in AD could therefore suppress neurogenesis and thus impairing hippocampal functions. This would therefore contribute to diminished memory performances and the progression of AD. And progression of AD would aggravate sleep disturbances. It is a second vicious circle.
Sort of a milder cousin of sleep apnea, UARS occurs when some type of resistance slows or blocks air in the nasal passages. The most common causes are mild nasal congestion or a tongue position during sleep that blocks breathing. Because the resistance makes it harder work simply to breathe, your body is half-waking up over and over again during the night, so you don't feel refreshed in the morning.