Clinical management of sleep disturbances in Alzheimer's disease: current and emerging strategies
Urrestarazu E (1), Iriarte J (1).
(1) Sleep Unit, Clinical Neurophysiology, Clínica Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, Navarra, Spain.
Sleep and circadian disorders in Alzheimer's disease (AD) are more frequent than in the general population and appear early in the course of the disease. Quality of sleep and quality of life are parallel in these patients, and such disorders also represent a heavy burden for caregivers.
Although alterations in melatonin and hypocretins (orexins) seem to play a key role in the origin of these disturbances, the etiology of these disorders is multifactorial, including many factors such as environment, behavior, treatments, and comorbidities, among others. A comprehensive evaluation of sleep in each patient is essential in the design of the treatment that includes nonpharmacological and pharmacological approaches.
One particularly interesting point is the possibility of a role of sleep disorders in the pathogenesis of AD, raising the possibility that treating the sleep disorder may alter the course of the disease.
In this review, we present an update on the role of sleep disorders in AD, the bidirectional influence of sleep problems and AD, and treatment options. Behavioral measures, bright light therapy (BLT), melatonin, and other drugs are likely well known and correctly managed by the physicians in charge of these patients. In spite of the multiple treatments used, evidence of efficacy is scarce and more randomized double-blind placebo-controlled studies are needed.
Future directions for treatment are the establishment of BLT protocols and the development of drugs with new mechanisms of action, especially hypocretin receptor antagonists, melatonin receptor agonists, and molecules that modulate the circadian clock.
CITATION Nat Sci Sleep. 2016 Jan 14;8:21-33. doi: 10.2147/NSS.S76706. eCollection 2016.