Narcolepsy is a brain disorder that causes excessive daytime sleepiness. There is sometimes a genetic component, but most patients have no family history of the problem. Though dramatic and uncontrolled "sleep attacks" have been the best-known feature of narcolepsy, in reality many patients do not have sleep attacks. Instead, they experience constant sleepiness during the day.
Combining results from 17 studies on insomnia in China, a pooled prevalence of 15.0% is reported for the country. This is considerably lower than a series of Western countries (50.5% in Poland, 37.2% in France and Italy, 27.1% in USA). However, the result is consistent among other East Asian countries. Men and women residing in China experience insomnia at similar rates. A separate meta-analysis focusing on this sleeping disorder in the elderly mentions that those with more than one physical or psychiatric malady experience it at a 60% higher rate than those with one condition or less. It also notes a higher prevalence of insomnia in women over the age of 50 than their male counterparts.
If you live in Alaska and think you may be suffering from one of the many sleep disorders listed above, you can take advantage of a free 10-minute phone consultation with the Alaska Sleep Clinic where one of our trained sleep specialists can help determine whether or not you need to have a sleep study to diagnose your condition. To get this free offer click on the link below.
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.
One factors that could explain this change in sleep architecture is a change in circadian rhythm, which regulates sleep. A disruption of the circadian rhythm would therefore generate sleep disturbances. Some studies show that people with AD have a delayed circadian rhythm, whereas in normal aging we will find an advanced circadian rhythm.
Interestingly, it has been shown that the sleep-wake cycle acts on the beta-amyloid burden which is a central component found in AD. Indeed, during waking, the production of beta-amyloid protein will be more consistent than during sleep. This is explained by two phenomena. The first is that the metabolic activity will be higher during waking and thus will secrete more beta-amyloid protein. The second is that oxidative stress will also be higher and lead to increased AB production.
In addressing sleep disorders and possible solutions, there is often a lot of buzz surrounding melatonin. Research suggests that melatonin is useful in helping people to fall asleep faster (decreased sleep latency), to stay asleep longer, and to experience improved sleep quality. In order to test this, a study was conducted that compared subjects that had taken Melatonin to subjects that had taken a placebo pill in subjects with primary sleep disorders. Researchers assessed sleep onset latency, total minutes slept, and overall sleep quality in the Melatonin and placebo groups to note the differences. In the end, researchers found that melatonin decreased sleep onset latency, increased total sleep time, and improved quality of sleep significantly more than the placebo group.
Due to rapidly increasing knowledge about sleep in the 20th century, including the discovery of REM sleep in the 1950s and circadian rhythm disorders in the 70s and 80s, the medical importance of sleep was recognized. The medical community began paying more attention than previously to primary sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, as well as the role and quality of sleep in other conditions. By the 1970s in the US, clinics and laboratories devoted to the study of sleep and sleep disorders had been founded, and a need for standards arose.
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.