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]

Although more research should be done to increase the reliability of this method of treatment, research suggests that music therapy can improve sleep quality in acute and chronic sleep disorders. In one particular study, participants (18 years or older) who had experienced acute or chronic sleep disorders were put in a randomly controlled trial and their sleep efficiency (overall time asleep) was observed. In order to assess sleep quality, researchers used subjective measures (i.e. questionnaires) and objective measures (i.e. polysomnography). The results of the study suggest that music therapy did improve sleep quality in subjects with acute or chronic sleep disorders, however only when tested subjectively. Although these results are not fully conclusive and more research should be conducted, it still provides evidence that music therapy can be an effective treatment for sleep disorders.[47]
What to do: If you suspect you have a circadian rhythm disorder, take steps to get your body onto a regular sleep schedule. Choose a bedtime and wake-up time that work for you, and follow the same routine each day, even on weekends. This can be tough for those who have to get up early during the week but like to stay up later on weekends, but do your best to craft a compromise between your work week and weekend habits. The important thing is to avoid the trap of sleeping from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. during the week, then suddenly shifting to late nights and late mornings on the weekends. This will inevitably leave you with insomnia on Sunday night, which in turn sets you up to start the week exhausted on Monday morning.

Although we do not know the causual relationship, we know that the more the AD progresses, the more we find sleep disorders.[29] In the same way, the more sleep disorders there are, the more the disease progresses, forming a vicious circle.[29] Taken this into account, sleep disturbances are no longer a symptom of AD and relationship between sleep disturbances and AD is bidirectional.[30]

Recent studies have also linked sleep disturbances, neurogenesis and AD.[29] 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.[29][34] These new cells are then incorporated into neuronal circuits and interestingly, the supragranular zone is found in the hippocampus.[29][34] These new cells will contribute to learning and memory and will play a role in the hippocampal-dependent memory.[29]
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.[57] Between 20 and 26% of adolescents report a sleep onset latency of >30 minutes. Also, 7-36% have difficulty initiating sleep.[59] Asian teens tend to have a higher prevalence of all of these adverse sleep outcomes than their North American and European counterparts.[59]
^ Keckeis, Marietta; Lattova, Zuzana; Maurovich-Horvat, Eszter; Beitinger, Pierre A.; Birkmann, Steffen; Lauer, Christoph J.; Wetter, Thomas C.; Wilde-Frenz, Johanna; Pollmächer, Thomas (2010). Finkelstein, David (ed.). "Impaired Glucose Tolerance in Sleep Disorders". PLoS ONE. 5 (3): e9444. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009444. PMC 2830474. PMID 20209158.

Now consider noise. If a ticking clock disturbs you, buy one that doesn't tick, or use your phone. Turn clock radios and MP3 players to the wall and cover lighted screens. Lay in supplies of earplugs, eye masks, and anything else that helps screen out light as well as sound. Some people find a fan or white-noise machine is soothing and blocks out street noise. If you don't like wearing earplugs or an eye mask when you fall asleep, keep them on your bedside table in case you wake up later. Many people find they're more sensitive to light and sound in the middle of the night.


In the UK, knowledge of sleep medicine and possibilities for diagnosis and treatment seem to lag. Guardian.co.uk quotes the director of the Imperial College Healthcare Sleep Centre: "One problem is that there has been relatively little training in sleep medicine in this country – certainly there is no structured training for sleep physicians."[55] The Imperial College Healthcare site[56] shows attention to obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSA) and very few other sleep disorders. Some NHS trusts have specialist clinics for respiratory and/or neurological sleep medicine.
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.
×