Patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) who are deep sleepers, defined as getting more slow-wave sleep, have slower progression of their disease compared to light sleepers, new research suggests.
If that’s the case, enhancing deep sleep may be a treatment target in PD patients, said Simon Schreiner, MD, Department of Neurology, University of Zurich, Switzerland.
“The association we found between slow-wave sleep and PD progression was very robust,” said Dr Schreiner. “It indicates that higher slow-wave sleep predicts a slower progression of axial symptoms as well as gait and postural function in patients with Parkinson’s disease.”
He presented his study here at the Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) 2017.
Sleep disturbances are common in PD. It’s believed that the underlying neurodegeneration affects the brain system that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, said Dr Schreiner.
However, there’s growing evidence of a bidirectional relationship: that sleep disturbances also influence neurodegeneration as well as the other way around, he said.
“This is very relevant,” said Dr Schreiner. “If this is true, this could lead to a vicious cycle resulting in accelerated neurodegeneration due to sleep disturbances. On the other hand, this could offer treatment possibilities aimed at sleep enhancement.”