Daytime Sleepiness and Parkinson’s Disease – More than Meets the Eye


Daytime Sleepiness and Parkinson’s Disease: The Contribution of the Multiple Sleep Latency Test

What is the prevalence of excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) in Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients? What are the factors that influence their daytime sleep latency?

A recent analysis using studies from current literature reveals variables that need to be looked at more extensively.


Previous studies show broad agreement that DSL in PD patients may be influenced by three factors.

  1. It may be primary to the disease itself, due to loss of both dopaminergic and non-dopaminergic neurons that control of the sleep-wake cycle
  2. It may arise as secondary to nocturnal sleep deprivation from coexistent sleep disorders
  3. It may also be the result of daytime medications with sedative effect


A small size sample review of 23 studies from current literature was undertaken to study the major factors that influence EDS in PD patients. Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) was used for an objective assessment of sleepiness. Sleep-onset REM periods (SOREMPs) during naps were assessed and results were interpreted independent of external factors (such as self-perception of sleep).


Yet, all three factors that influence DSL in PD patients seemed to present contradictory data. It is possible that the variability of results may be due to the small sample size, and that neuropathological heterogeneity of the disease was not fully considered.


This underscores the need for a more specific and meticulous approach. Before carrying out longitudinal studies with significant samples, careful analysis should also be done by assigning a specific agent on the responsibility of EDS in PD patients.


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