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New study links better sleep with improved cognitive ability for Parkinson’s patients

Can sleep help alleviate symptoms for people suffering from Parkinson's disease?

New study links better sleep with improved cognitive ability for Parkinson’s patients

A new study has shed light on the adverse effects of sleep deprivation and disturbance on patients who suffer from Parkinson’s.

In a study conducted by the University of Western Australia, the impact of poor sleep patterns was linked to a decrease in memory, planning and cognitive abilities.

Associate Professor Romola Bucks noted that Parkinson’s was indeed a motor disorder but it was common to see it affect other parts of the body and brain.

“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.”

The study points to 98 per cent of people suffering from Parkinson’s, being affected by various sleep disorders. These include insomnia, sleep behaviour disorders, nightmares, sleep-related breathing disorders and sleep fragmentation.

“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 that this study shows we need to address the wider issue of sleep disorders as a whole – instead of just focussing on each individual one – as those who suffer from Parkinson’s also tend to experience a host of sleeping disorders.

“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.”

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