Yesterday, the Lewy Body Dementia Association (lbda.org) hosted a good one-hour webinar on sleep problems in Lewy Body Dementia (LBD), also known as Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB). Most of the webinar is of relevance to sleep issues in Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) as well.
The presenter, a sleep disorders neurologist at UCLA, addressed these topics:
* function of sleep
* how much sleep do we need
* obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
* REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD)
* restless legs syndrome (RLS)
* conclusions about RBD and DLB
I was surprised that excessive daytime sleepiness was not addressed during the presentation. I suppose since the sponsoring pharmaceutical company is studying a drug for RBD, that was really the focus.
The highlight of the webinar was the question-and-answer session, which was well-facilitated by Angela Taylor of the LBDA. The questions were about:
* RLS and diabetic neuropathy
* excessive daytime sleepiness
* melatonin dosage
* neurodegenerative disease risk
My detailed notes from the webinar are below.
The presentation is here:
The webinar recording is here:
(Note: there’s a problem with the slides for the first eight minutes or so.)
LBDU Webinar: Sleep Issues in LBD
Presenter: Dr. Alon Y. Avidan, MD, MPH, Professor of Neurology, Director of the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center.
Notes from presentation:
Theory that sleep is restorative. Memory is consolidated. If you don’t sleep well, your memory and cognitive abilities may decline.
Sleep is rejuvenative. Brain’s glymphatic system is most active during sleep. The brain “takes out the trash” while we sleep. Trash = byproducts and toxins. The function of the glymphatic system was only characterized in the last few years. Lack of good sleep puts the patient at risk for more disease and poor health.
14:13 Most adults need 7-8 hours. If less than 4 hours, you are putting yourself at risk for heart disease, depression, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Sleep needed varies by age groups. National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours for adults. Later, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends 7-8 hours; less or more than that is not good. Healthy sleep duration is 7 hours or more each night (regularly). Good sleep on weekends is important.
Less than 7 hours/night regularly, puts you at risk for weight gain and obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, depression, increased risk of death, depressed immune function, increased pain, poor performance, increased risk, and increased accidents.
16:48 Sleep is often affected by aging process but it doesn’t have to be this way. As we age, we have more pain, more sleep apnea, more RLS, more comorbid disorders, and take more medications. Don’t be satisfied with 4-5 hours of sleep. Make an effort to improve sleep quality and duration.
18:10 Obstructive sleep apnea is affected by age, weight, alcohol. Alcohol can convert someone from simple snoring to sleep apnea. 20-80 times to stop breathing in one hour! CPAP therapy is gold-standard treatment.
20:20 This is the most important sleep disorder in those with LBD. REM sleep behavior disorder is a type of parasomnia (abnormal behavior in sleep). Muscles are supposed to be paralyzed when dreaming. In RBD, patients act out dreams. Concerns are self-injury or injury of bed partner. Incomplete transition from REM sleep to non-REM sleep (where you are nearly awake). REM sleep without atonia.
RBD is common in alpha-synucleinopathies (PD, DLB, MSA). RBD can present before the onset of neurodegenerative disease. Usually 2/3 of patients will develop neurodegenerative disease within 10 years.
Sleep neurologists should tell patients diagnosed with RBD that they are “at risk for dementia later in life.”
RBD is part of the diagnostic criteria for DLB.
Dreams in RBD are rarely pleasant.
26:10 Treatment focuses on safety: bedroom safe; remove hard/sharp objects; sleep in padded mattress; place mattress on floor; cover windows with heavy curtain; use pillow barricades. Until managed, sleep alone. Sleep in sleeping bag until treated. Medications: melatonin (he prefers because it’s the safesty; 5mg up to 15mg), clonazepam (.25 to .5mg; had side effects, such as grogginess).
RBD could be a window of opportunity in DLB. Nelotanserin clinical trial is ending at the end of June 2017. Lead institution is Mayo.
28:19 Restless legs syndrome. Urge to move the legs occur primarily in the evening. Many LBD patients have this condition. Very bothersome. Often physicians don’t know how to diagnose RLS. Symptoms get worse with inactivity. Difficult to relieve leg discomfort. Driving or flying long distances – especially difficult. Effective treatments available.
29:46 One-third of patients with neurodegenerative disease are affected by insomnia, particularly middle-of-the-night insomnia. Alcohol is not a good idea for insomnia. Get out of bed; avoid staying in bed awake. Talk to your MD about potential treatments.
* sleep disorder increases odds of DLB by 5x over Alzheimer’s
* RBD is strongest prognosticator of dementia, including DLB
Future research into RBD will focus on:
* benefit of exercise
* role of dietary factors (dairy products, saturated and animal fat, lower use of Mediterranean diet and of non-steroid drugs)
* role of melatonin as a neuroprotective agent
* establish guideline about agents that can help prevent phenoconversion from RBD to DLB
31:48 Notes from Question-and-Answer session:
Q: RLS and diabetic neuropathy
A: Common situation. The medication gabapentin can address both problems. Talk to a PCP. RLS diagnosis must be validated.
Q: Excessive daytime sleepiness is common. How do you know if sleepiness is excessive?
A: Well-validated measures of EDS to assess what is abnormal and what is not. Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) can be used. You can find the scale online. Falling asleep immediately upon watching TV at any time of day, for example, is excessive.
Q: What is the maximum number of nap-time that will not disrupt nighttime sleep?
A: If “hours,” it’s already not good. Naps should be short (15-20 minutes) and strategic (1-3pm). Sleep is not like a bank account.
Q: What treatments are there for EDS?
A: Stimulants should not be the focus. We should use good sleep to give us energy. Exception to the “avoid medications” rule is narcolepsy, which is very rare. Shift workers or patients with sleep apnea who are still fatigued could be given stimulants. But I would never give someone with EDS a stimulant because this doesn’t address the problem of poor sleep. First find out what is causing the sleep disruption. One thing that can be helpful in treating LBD sleepiness is light. Light exposure, especially early in the day, is important. We don’t have good data on wake-promoting agents in LBD.
Q: Dosage of melatonin for LBD for sleep or RBD?
A: Melatonin for RBD – high-dose melatonin (3mg, increasing by 3mg every two weeks up to 12mg). We have good data on RBD. Could consider 5mg sustained release melatonin. This increases by 5mg every two weeks up to 15mg. If 12mg or 15mg don’t work, consider adding clonazepam. If that doesn’t work, look again into the cause of RBD. Often RBD is due to other substance patient is taking but forgot reporting initially to MD.
Low-dose melatonin (.5mg) – circadian rhythm problems. Middle-dose melatonin – insomnia.
Q: Is RLS or sleep apnea associated with neurodegenerative diseases?
A: No data whatsoever that RLS puts you at risk for neurodegenerative disease. Nor is it a prognosticator.
Untreated sleep apnea puts you at risk for accelerated neurodegeneration, if you already have a predisposition for development of Alzheimer’s.
Q: If you have RBD and receive treatment for it, can you reduce risk of neurodegenerative disease?
A: We don’t know. If you use clonazepam, you are probably not going to reduce risk of disease. We don’t know for sure about melatonin. Some believe that melatonin is neuroprotective. But patients taking melatonin don’t have slower progression towards neurodegeneration. Disease process isn’t reversed.
RBD is a great biomarker. This means that we can use it to test neuroprotective agents.
Angela Taylor, LBDA:
LBDA research page — lbda.org/participate-in-research
Enrollment for one RBD study has been extended.