The 11th April was World Parkinson’s Day and a new study at The University of Western Australia may offer hope in alleviating some of the memory and thinking skills, problems associated with the debilitating movement disorder.
UWA PhD student, Maria Pushpanathan said the research, which examined the links between poor sleep and cognition in people with Parkinson’s, found that disturbed sleep had a profound effect on a patient’s concentration, memory and planning ability. “While Parkinson’s is classified as a movement disorder, it also affects thinking and memory skills, and causes sleep disruption,” Ms. Pushpanathan said; “It turns out that these sleep problems could be a significant factor leading to cognitive issues like poorer attention and memory loss.
Having Parkinson’s is tough, let alone if we add more cognitive problems due to poor sleep.” Ms Pushpanathan said sleep disorders affect up to 98% of people with Parkinson’s with the range of common disturbances including insomnia, sleep fragmentation, sleep-related breathing disorders, restless leg syndrome, REM sleep behaviour disorder and nightmares.
“While the number of studies that fit our criteria was relatively small and this field of research is in its infancy, it is the beginning of a new scientific adventure,” Ms. Pushpanathan said; “We know that sufficient, good quality sleep is vital for physical and mental health, as well as for thinking and memory.” Ms Pushpanathan said researchers now hope to look at how sleep disorder evolves as Parkinson’s develops.
“Approximately 70,000 Australians are living with Parkinson’s – imagine how life would be different if sleep was no longer a struggle, and memory loss could be delayed, reduced, or even prevented,” she said.