Sleep can help alleviate a range of symptoms for people with Parkinson’s disease, a University of Western Australia study has found.
The meta-analysis shows disturbed sleep can significantly effect a patient’s memory, planning and cognitive abilities.
Associate Professor Romola Bucks said Parkinson’s was a motor disorder, but it was very common to see a host of other problems associated with it.
“What our study showed was that if you have Parkinson’s and sleep problems then you are going to have poorer memory and thinking skills, particularly planning, problem solving and mental flexibility,” she said.
“The reason why that is exciting is because many of those sleep problems are treatable.”
According to the study, 98 per cent of people with Parkinson’s are affected by sleep disorders including insomnia, sleep fragmentation, sleep-related breathing disorders, REM sleep behaviour disorders and nightmares.
“Some of the sleep problems that are associated with Parkinson’s we can remediate, and reduce that burden that people are living with day to day,” Ms Buck said.
“And I think that is a worthwhile endeavour.
“We need to take our wins where we can get them, and if there is a particular win in treating sleep problems I think we should do that.
“What would worry me is if we tended to think of sleep problems as an inevitable consequence of Parkinson’s and therefore don’t treat them.”
Ms Buck said one of the worldwide trends was to research individual sleep disorders in isolation, but people with Parkinson’s may suffer from more than one.
“We need to be studying the most effective treatments or combination of treatments for those kind of complex presentations,” she said.
“We are hoping this paper will focus more attention and funding research into the impact of sleep problems, while looking for the best combination of treatment, for the best outcome.”