August 4, 2006

A new study published in the August 1 issue of the journal SLEEP has included another potential symptom affecting patients suffering from Alzheimer disease—the inability to get a good night’s sleep. According to the article, Alzheimer’s patients can face an increased risk of sleep disturbance due to the genetic variation at the enzyme monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A).
David Craig, MD, and colleagues of the department of geriatric medicine at Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland, in the United Kingdom, surveyed 426 Alzheimer’s patients.  They discovered that 54% experienced sleep disturbance, and that a quantitative sleep disturbance score was significantly higher in the patients possessing MAO-A four-repeat allele genotypes.
This finding suggests that persons with a family history of Alzheimer, and whose relatives that had the disease experienced sleep disturbance as a result of the variation at the enzyme MAO-A, can benefit from early detection and treatment.
Sleep disturbances can be disruptive to Alzheimer patients and stressful for caregivers. Sleep disturbances may consist of excessive sleepiness during the day to difficulty falling asleep at night, where the patient would participate in activities designed to awaken the caregiver.
Persons thinking they might have a sleep disorder are encouraged to consult with their physician, who will determine whether a visit to a sleep specialist is necessary.

SLEEP is the official journal of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, LLC, a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the Sleep Research Society, a Web site maintained by the AASM, provides information about the various sleep disorders that exist, the forms of treatment available, recent news on the topic of sleep, sleep studies that have been conducted, and a listing of sleep centers.

An abstract of the article is available at