Sleep disorders are a group of conditions that affect the ability to sleep well on a regular basis. Whether they are caused by a health problem or by too much stress, sleep disorders are becoming increasingly common in the United States. In fact, more than 75 percent of Americans between ages 20 and 59 report having sleeping difficulties fairly regularly.
^ Tranah, Gregory J.; Blackwell, Terri; Stone, Katie L.; Ancoli‐Israel, Sonia; Paudel, Misti L.; Ensrud, Kristine E.; Cauley, Jane A.; Redline, Susan; Hillier, Teresa A. (2011). "Circadian activity rhythms and risk of incident dementia and mild cognitive impairment in older women". Annals of Neurology. 70 (5): 722–732. doi:10.1002/ana.22468. ISSN 1531-8249.
One factors that could explain this change in sleep architecture is a change in circadian rhythm, which regulates sleep.[29] A disruption of the circadian rhythm would therefore generate sleep disturbances.[29] Some studies show that people with AD have a delayed circadian rhythm, whereas in normal aging we will find an advanced circadian rhythm.[29][31]
Neurodegenerative diseases have been often associated with sleep disorders, mainly when they are characterized by abnormal accumulation of alpha-synuclein, such as multiple system atrophy (MSA), Parkinson's disease (PD) and Lewy body disease (LBD).[21][22][23][24][25][26][27] For instance, people diagnosed with PD have often presented different kinds of sleep concerns, commonly regard to insomnia (around 70% of the PD population), hypersomnia (more than 50% of the PD population), and REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) - that may affect around 40% of the PD population and it is associated with increased motor symptoms.[21][22][23][24][25][27] Importantly, RBD has been also highlighted as a strong precursor of developing dementia in PD patients over several years in prior, which seems to be a great opportunity for improving the treatments of the disease.[22][24]
The natural internal clock that controls our 24-hour cycle of sleep and waking, circadian rhythms are easily upset by changes in schedule, and they're greatly affected by light and darkness. Jet lag is the best known circadian rhythm disorder, but this sensitive inner clock can also be disrupted by changes in routine resulting in an erratic sleep schedule.