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Sleep disorders in neuromuscular diseases

Dhand, Upinder Ka; Dhand, Rajivb

Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine: November 2006 - Volume 12 - Issue 6 - p 402–408
doi: 10.1097/01.mcp.0000245704.92311.1e
Sleep and respiratory neurobiology

Purpose of review Patients with neuromuscular disorders (NMD) are especially vulnerable to sleep-related dysfunction. Sleep-disordered breathing often precedes diurnal respiratory failure in NMD patients, requiring timely recognition and management with noninvasive ventilation (NIV). This paper reviews the mechanisms, diagnostic evaluation, and management of sleep disorders in various neuromuscular diseases.

Recent findings The severity, duration, and type of NMD influence the pattern of sleep disturbance. Several investigators have addressed other clinical aspects including rating scales for sleep complaints, hypocretin-1 deficiency, excessive daytime somnolence, and relation of sleep disorder with length of CTG trinucleotide repeats in myotonic dystrophy. Benefits of NIV on quality of life and survival in adults and children with chronic NMD are well established, and recently have been documented even in patients with nocturnal hypoventilation and daytime normocapnia. In contrast, the timing for investigation with polysomnography and for initiation of NIV is debated.

Summary Patients with chronic NMD should be routinely assessed for sleep-disordered breathing and sleep complaints, because these are treatable complications in an otherwise progressive disease process. Further research is needed to establish the indications for polysomnography and to determine the optimal timing for initiating NIV to treat sleep-disordered breathing in patients with neuromuscular diseases.

aDepartment of Neurology, USA

bDepartment of Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Environmental Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA

Correspondence to Upinder K. Dhand, MD, FAAN, 1 Hospital Drive # M178, Department of Neurology, Columbia, MO 65212, USA Tel: +1 573 882 3135; fax: +1 573 884 4249; e-mail:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.