Although the exact mechanisms and the causal relationship between sleep disturbances and AD are not yet clear, these findings already provide a better understanding. In addition, they open up ideas for the implementation of treatments to curb the cognitive decline of patients suffering from this disease. In the same way, it also makes it possible to better target at risk population.
Both night terrors and sleepwalking arise during NREM sleep and occur most often in children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old. A night terror can be dramatic: Your child may wake up screaming, but unable to explain the fear. Sometimes children who have night terrors remember a frightening image, but often they remember nothing. Night terrors are often more frightening for parents than for their child. Sleepwalkers can perform a range of activities -- some potentially dangerous, like leaving the house -- while they continue to sleep.
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.
A review of the evidence in 2012 concluded that current research is not rigorous enough to make recommendations around the use of acupuncture for insomnia. The pooled results of two trials on acupuncture showed a moderate likelihood that there may be some improvement to sleep quality for individuals with a diagnosis insomnia.:15 This form of treatment for sleep disorders is generally studied in adults, rather than children. Further research would be needed to study the effects of acupuncture on sleep disorders in children.
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.
The most common sleep disorder is insomnia. Others are sleep apnea, narcolepsy and hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness at inappropriate times), sleeping sickness (disruption of sleep cycle due to infection), sleepwalking, and night terrors. Management of sleep disturbances that are secondary to mental, medical, or substance abuse disorders should focus on the underlying conditions.
According to one meta-analysis, the two most prevalent sleep disorders among children are confusional arousals and sleep walking. An estimated 17.3% of kids between 3 and 13 years old experience confusional arousals. About 17% of children sleep walk, with the disorder being more common among boys than girls. The peak ages of sleep walking are from 8 to 12 years old. A different systematic review offers a high range of prevalence rates of sleep bruxism for children. Between 15.29 and 38.6% of preschoolers grind their teeth at least one night a week. All but one of the included studies reports decreasing bruxist prevalence as age increased as well as a higher prevalence among boys than girls.
A systematic review found that traumatic childhood experiences (such as family conflict or sexual trauma) significantly increases the risk for a number of sleep disorders in adulthood, including sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and insomnia. It is currently unclear whether or not moderate alcohol consumption increases the risk of obstructive sleep apnea.
With over 80 listed sleep disorders, and more that are being researched, it's important for patients suffering from the various types of sleep disorders to seek medical treatment. If you believe that your sleep problems may be caused by a disorder, there are many things you can do to solve your sleep issues from DIY tips and tricks such as practicing better sleep hygiene, to contacting a sleep clinic to schedule an inlab sleep study, or an at home sleep test for certain pre-screened disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea.
^ Hirshkowitz, Max (2004). "Chapter 10, Neuropsychiatric Aspects of Sleep and Sleep Disorders (pp 315-340)" (Google Books preview includes entire chapter 10). In Stuart C. Yudofsky; Robert E. Hales (eds.). Essentials of neuropsychiatry and clinical neurosciences (4 ed.). Arlington, Virginia, USA: American Psychiatric Publishing. ISBN 978-1-58562-005-0. ...insomnia is a symptom. It is neither a disease nor a specific condition. (from p. 322)