Patients suffering from
Parkinson's disease are likely to benefit from sleep, suggests new study. Sleep
may improve the motor functioning of people with Parkinson's.
(PD) is a neurological disorder that is characterized by tremors, difficulty in
co-ordination and slow movement. Another significant feature is the
destruction of the dopamine- producing neurons in the brain of PD patients and
the low levels of dopamine in the brain cells. The condition usually affects
people over the age of 50 years.
A group of
scientists who carried out a study on PD patients have revealed that many of
them reported better motor skills when they wake up in the morning, after a
good night's sleep or after their afternoon nap. This phenomenon is known as
the 'sleep benefit', defined as "a clear decrease in PD symptoms after a
period of sleep."
carried out on 243 people who answered a comprehensive screening questionnaire
covering a range of motor and non-motor PD symptoms. The study found that regular
daytime naps were taken by 98 patients, of whom 46% had no sleep benefit, 20.4%
reported sleep benefit after both night sleep and afternoon naps, 20.4%
reported benefit only after night sleep, and 13.3% of patients reported benefit
only after a daytime nap.
tempting to speculate whether daytime naps might constitute a possible
therapeutic application," says lead researcher Dr. Sebastiaan Overeem,
M.D., Ph.D. "If the subjective experience of sleep benefit is proven to be
related to an objective improvement in motor function, this could have
considerable clinical benefits,"he adds.
There was no
difference in age at onset, disease duration, or type of treatment (clinical
variables) or depression, memory, quality of life scores, fatigue, or apathy(demographic
variables) experienced by those who benefitted from sleep and those who didn't.
remains an intriguing but elusive phenomenon, which deserves renewed attention
and further research," remarked the researchers whose study was published
in the Journal of Parkinson's disease.
Although they could
not come up with a single reason as to why the patients benefitted from sleep,
they believed that some possible reasons could include improved functioning of
dopamine after sleep or the effect that sleep has on the circadian rhythm of
the PD affected individual.
remarks that the results are based on the patient's subjective judgment and
recommends objective quantifications for motor performance and longitudinal
assessment of Parkinson's disease symptoms during future studies. He works at
the Department of Neurology, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and
Behavior, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, The Netherlands.
is important to identify possible determinants and the underlying mechanisms of
sleep benefit, in order to identify those patients most likely to benefit from
sleep. Both our research and previous studies show it's important to renew
research on this intriguing subject, " he concludes.
Overeem.S et al.,Journal
of Parkinson's Disease (June issue) 2012