The Sleep-Wake System and Alzheimer's Disease

The Sleep-Wake System and Alzheimer's Disease

Denise Sharon (Advanced Sleep Center, Tulane University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8478-2.ch015
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The goal of this chapter is to raise awareness about the sleep-wake changes experienced by persons with Alzheimer's disease (AD) through a comprehensive review of the literature. The sleep-wake cycle is vital to our existence. Normal sleep is essential for restoration of the body and the brain. Sleep and wake states follow a circadian rhythm that regulates the body's internal processes. Sleep plays an important role in learning and memory consolidation, affecting wake-time cognitive functioning. The sleep-wake system is subject to aging and affected by a variety of disorders, including AD. The effect of AD on the sleep-wake cycle is magnified by comorbidities and situational factors. Disturbances of the sleep-wake cycle in AD are associated with increased caregiver burden and institutionalization and can significantly impact the affected individual's quality of life and subjective experience. Behavioral interventions designed to stabilize the sleep-wake cycle can be easily implemented.
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This chapter is based on a review of pertinent literature identified through a search of the PubMed and Scopus databases. Search terms included sleep and AD, sleep and dementia, AD or dementia and sleep apnea, AD or dementia and insomnia, AD or dementia and Willis Ekbom disease/restless legs syndrome, AD or dementia and sleep-related movement disorders, AD or dementia and REM behavior disorder, and AD or dementia and irregular sleep-wake rhythm disorder. Reports about sleep-wake changes from patients seen by the author at the Advanced Sleep Center in Metairie, Louisiana, and other settings were assessed for common experiences.

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