The treatment of sleep dysfunction in neurodegenerative disorders

Zanna J. Voysey, Roger A. Barker, Alpar S. Lazar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
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Sleep dysfunction is highly prevalent across the spectrum of neurodegenerative conditions and is a key determinant of quality of life for both patients and their families. Mounting recent evidence also suggests that such dysfunction exacerbates cognitive and affective clinical features of neurodegeneration, as well as disease progression through acceleration of pathogenic processes. Effective assessment and treatment of sleep dysfunction in neurodegeneration is therefore of paramount importance; yet robust therapeutic guidelines are lacking, owing in part to a historical paucity of effective treatments and trials.
Here, we review the common sleep abnormalities evident in neurodegenerative disease states and evaluate the latest evidence for traditional and emerging interventions, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological. Interventions considered include conservative measures, targeted treatments of specific clinical sleep pathologies, established sedating and alerting agents, melatonin, and orexin antagonists, as well as bright light therapy, behavioural measures and slow wave sleep augmentation techniques. We conclude by providing a suggested framework for treatment based on contemporary evidence and highlight areas that may emerge as major therapeutic advances in the near future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202–216
Number of pages15
Early online date11 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Alzheimer’s
  • Dementia
  • Insomnia
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Parkinson’s
  • Sleep

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