Management of rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder in patients with Parkinson's disease
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Among all of the devastating effects that Parkinson’s disease (PD) has on an individual, sleep dysfunction is one that can have a profound effect on the entire family of the patient. The most potentially destructive of these sleep syndromes being that of Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD). This disorder not only causes sleep impairment to the patient, but can occasionally result in life-threatening injury to the individual or their bed partner. While this condition is manageable with medication, the current treatment of choice is a long-acting benzodiazepine, clonazepam. This drug, while effective in treating RBD, comes with a significant burden of side effects. Patients with neurodegenerative disorders, like PD, are at even higher risk of suffering the negative impacts of this treatment. One potential alternative treatment that has been considered is a supplement of exogenous melatonin, a hormone that plays a role in maintaining one’s circadian rhythm. Several small case studies have shown potential efficacy of this treatment, and with very few side effects. However, this efficacy has not yet been proven by randomized clinical trial. This proposed study will perform a double-blind randomized clinical trial of melatonin vs. placebo in a population of PD patients with RBD. Subjects will be analyzed via polysomnographic sleep study, where symptoms will be scored on the RBD Severity Scale (RBDSS) at baseline and after a treatment intervention. Statistical analysis will then ascertain whether or not a significant symptom reduction is seen following melatonin treatment, compared to a group receiving placebo. If melatonin proves to be efficacious in this patient population, this would give clinicians a new treatment option to consider to effectively manage symptoms of RBD with a much lower risk of potentially harmful side effects. Finding an effective method of managing this condition, the prevalence of which continues to rise worldwide, will have a great impact on improving the safety and quality of life of these patients.