Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 110, Issue 2, pp 125–150 | Cite as

Sleep disturbances in Parkinsonism

  • J. J. M. Askenasy


The present article is meant to suggest an approach to the guidelines for the therapy of sleep disturbances in Parkinson's Disease (PD) patients.

The factors affecting the quality of life in PD patients are depression, sleep disturbances and dependence. A large review of the literature on sleep disturbances in PD patients, provided the basis for the following classification of the sleep-arousal disturbances in PD patients.

We suggest a model based on 3 steps in the treatment of sleep disturbances in PD patients. This model allowing the patient, the spouse or the caregiver a quiet sleep at night, may postpone the retirement and the institutionalization of the PD patient.

I.Correct diagnosis of sleep disorders based on detailed anamnesis of the patient and of the spouse or of the caregiver. One week recording on a symptom diary (log) by the patient or the caregiver. Correct diagnosis of sleep disorders co morbidities. Selection of the most appropriate sleep test among: polysomnography (PSG), multiple sleep latency test (MSLT), multiple wake latency test (MWLT), Epworth Sleepiness Scale, actigraphy or video-PSG.

II. The nonspecific therapeutic approach consists in:

a)Checking the sleep effect on motor performance, is it beneficial, worse or neutral.

b) Psycho-physical assistance.

c) Dopaminergic adjustment is necessary owing to the progression of the nigrostriatal degeneration and the increased sensitivity of the terminals, which alter the normal modulator mechanisms of the motor centers in PD patients. Among the many neurotransmitters of the nigro-striatal pathway one can distinguish two with a major influence on REM and NonREM sleep. REM sleep corresponds to an increased cholinergic receptor activity and a decreased dopaminergic activity. This is the reason why REM sleep deprivation by suppressing cholinergic receptor activity ameliorates PD motor symptoms. L-Dopa and its agonists by suppressing cholinergic receptors suppress REM sleep. The permanent adjustment according to the progression of the degenerative process of the disease will diminishe aggravation.

The following types of sleep-arousal disturbances have to be considered in PD patients:

– Sleep Disturbances

Light Fragmented Sleep (LFS)

Abnormal Motor Activity During Sleep (AMADS)

REM Behavior Disorders (RBD)

Sleep Related Breathing Disorders (SRBD)

Sleep Related Hallucinations (SRH)

Sleep Related Psychotic Behavior (SRPB)

– Arousal Disturbances

Sleep Attacks (SA)

Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS)

Each syndrome has to receive a score according to its severity

III. The specific therapy consists in: LFS: Benzodiazepines & Nondiazepines.

AMADS: Clonazepam, Opioid, Apomorphine infusion; RBD: Clonazepam and dopaminergic agonists; SRBD: CPAP, UPPP, nasal interventions, losing weight; SRH: Clozapine, Risperidone; SRPD: Nortriptyline, Clozapine, Olanzepine; SA–adjustment; EDS-arousing drugs. Each therapeutic approach must be tailored to the individual PD patient.

Keywords: Sleep-arousal disturbances light fragmented sleep abnormal motor activity during sleep REM behavior disorders sleep related breathing disorders sleep related hallucinations sleep related psychotic behavior sleep attacks excessive daytime sleepiness. 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. J. M. Askenasy
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Neurology, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, IsraelIL

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