Treatment of Sleep Dysfunction in Parkinson’s Disease

Academic Article


  • Impaired sleep and alertness affect the majority of Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients, negatively impacting safety and quality of life. The etiology of impaired sleep-wake cycle in PD is multifactorial and encompasses medication side effects, nocturnal PD motor symptoms, and presence of co-existent sleep and neuropsychiatric disorders. The primary neurodegenerative process of PD involves brain regions that regulate the sleep-wake cycle, such as brainstem and hypothalamic nuclei. Sleep disorders in PD include insomnia, REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), sleep disordered breathing (SDB), restless legs syndrome (RLS), and circadian disruption. Despite its high prevalence in the PD population, there is a paucity of clinical studies that have investigated treatment of sleep dysfunction associated with PD. Therefore, we aim to review available evidence and outline treatment strategies for improvement of disorders of sleep and wakefulness in PD patients. Evidence supporting the efficacy of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment strategies in PD is limited. There is thus a great need but also opportunity for development of well-designed clinical trials for impaired sleep and alertness in PD. Providing education about sleep hygiene and strategies for its implementation represents the initial step in management. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of co-existent primary sleep and psychiatric disorders are critical, as this may significantly improve sleep and alertness. While the optimal treatment for insomnia in PD has not been established, available strategies include cognitive-behavioral therapy, medications with soporific properties, and light therapy. Safety measures, clonazepam, and melatonin are the mainstay of treatment for RBD. Continuous positive airway pressure is an effective treatment for SDB in PD. The treatment algorithm for RLS associated with PD mirrors that used for idiopathic RLS. Circadian disruption has emerged as an important etiology of impaired sleep-wake cycles in PD, and circadian-based interventions hold promise for novel treatment approaches.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Amara AW; Chahine LM; Videnovic A
  • Volume

  • 19
  • Issue

  • 7