A recent study shows that a disturbed sleep pattern can indicate possible degenerative diseases.
The sleep pattern or various sleep disorders can indicate degenerative diseases. The REM phase plays a particularly important role here.
Today’s article is about the results of various studies. These show what the sleep pattern can reveal about possible degenerative diseases.
Sleep disorders are a common problem that not only affects patients with neurodegenerative diseases (such as Parkinson’s, dementia or Alzheimer’s).
If the normal sleep-wake cycle is disturbed, mental, emotional or physical complaints can occur as a result.
The most common sleep disorders are:
- Sleep apnea (short involuntary pauses in breathing)
- Bed-wetting (especially in children)
- Insomnia (problems falling or staying asleep)
- Restless Legs Syndrome (restlessness in the legs prevents sleep)
- Sleep paralysis or sleep paralysis (one wakes up at night but is unable to move)
- Night terrors (waking up suddenly with great anxiety)
- Sleepwalking or somnambulism (people get out of bed while they sleep and sometimes engage in activities)
- Narcolepsy (when the person falls asleep, no matter where or when, without wanting to)
The following sleep disorders are less common:
- Idiopathic hypersomnia (despite a good night’s sleep, those affected involuntarily fall asleep during the day)
- Pathological hypersomnia or insomnia (excessive need for sleep with episodic sleep attacks)
- Idiopathic sleep disorder (neurologically disturbed sleep cycle, sufferers have problems waking up or regulating sleep)
REM phase and neurodegenerative diseases
According to a study by the neurological department of the Barcelona Clinic (Spain), behaviors during the REM phase can explain or indicate certain diseases. For example Parkinson’s or dementia.
Patients who suffer from nightmares during the REM period of being attacked or chased and expressed by hitting, kicking, screaming, or crying may later suffer from neurodegenerative diseases as there is often a dopamine deficiency in the brain.
Affected persons can be examined in the clinic mentioned and also find out about possible consequences.
The analyzes are carried out on an outpatient basis. Various behaviors are examined during the REM phase and the risk of illness is determined.
The sleep disorders could provide clues that are important to avoid narcolepsy, insomnia, cardiovascular or degenerative diseases. Respiratory problems such as apnea or snoring are also detected with these examinations.
What does sleep pattern have to do with neurological diseases?
The Department of Neumology in the University Hospital of Ciudad Real (Spain) has a Department for Nocturnal Breathing Disorders. There are also congresses on sleep medicine there. These cover topics such as the relationship between epilepsy and insomnia.
Because it is not always easy to distinguish an epileptic seizure from a sleep disorder.
Sleep quality also plays an important role in other diseases: the risk of Parkinson’s (the second most common neurodegenerative disease) is greater in patients with insomnia, anxiety or depression, for example.
- 80% of Parkinson’s patients suffer from hypersomnia.
- 40% of patients suffer from behavioral disorders during the REM phase.
- Restless legs syndrome is diagnosed in 20%.
Statistically speaking, patients with insomnia suffer more often from neurodegenerative diseases, which severely impair their quality of life.
Sleep disorders could be an initial symptom of these diseases. It is therefore important to analyze these and, if necessary, initiate the correct treatment.
Certain sleep disorders are also associated with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, or bipolarity. Anxiety and post-traumatic stress are also closely related to sleep problems.
Sleep disorders and Alzheimer’s
Another study found that there was a link between longer life expectancy and the greater number of people with dementia in general and Alzheimer’s in particular.
There is a direct relationship between age, Alzheimer’s, and sleep disorders. Genetic factors also play a role in this.
Sleep patterns in an Alzheimer’s patient:
- Excessive movement when waking up.
- Shorter orthodox sleep ( non-REM sleep ) and shorter REM phase (rapid eye movements).
- Drowsiness during the day.
The main cause of this is damaged nerve cells that are necessary for healthy sleep. The affected patients have disorders in the hypotalamus. In addition, the internal clock of those affected is disturbed.