The Treatment of Sleep Dysfunction in Neurodegenerative Disorders

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Voysey, Zanna J. 
Barker, Roger A. 

Abstract: Sleep dysfunction is highly prevalent across the spectrum of neurodegenerative conditions and is a key determinant of quality of life for both patients and their families. Mounting recent evidence also suggests that such dysfunction exacerbates cognitive and affective clinical features of neurodegeneration, as well as disease progression through acceleration of pathogenic processes. Effective assessment and treatment of sleep dysfunction in neurodegeneration is therefore of paramount importance; yet robust therapeutic guidelines are lacking, owing in part to a historical paucity of effective treatments and trials. Here, we review the common sleep abnormalities evident in neurodegenerative disease states and evaluate the latest evidence for traditional and emerging interventions, both pharmacological and nonpharmacological. Interventions considered include conservative measures, targeted treatments of specific clinical sleep pathologies, established sedating and alerting agents, melatonin, and orexin antagonists, as well as bright light therapy, behavioral measures, and slow-wave sleep augmentation techniques. We conclude by providing a suggested framework for treatment based on contemporary evidence and highlight areas that may emerge as major therapeutic advances in the near future.


Funder: Medical Research Council; doi:

Funder: National Institute for Health Research; doi:

Review, Sleep, Insomnia, Neurodegeneration, Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s
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Springer International Publishing
Wellcome Trust (207799/Z/17/Z)
Asssociation of British Neurologists (G104701)
Alzheimer’s Research UK (RROU.GAAB)