Background: PD is associated with a variety of sleep problems. The dopamine agonists (DA) pramipexole and ropinirole were recently implicated in causing "sleep attacks" and motor vehicle accidents.
Methods: In order to determine the overall rate of subjective sleep problems in PD and to determine if any factors, including specific medications, correlate with sleep pathology, the authors surveyed consecutive patients with PD seen over a 3-month period in a Movement Disorders Clinic. The authors collected demographic and medication data, and the patients completed the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), questions assessing the presence of restless legs syndrome (RLS), a modified National Sleep Foundation sleep survey, and specific questions regarding falling asleep while driving.
Results: A total of 320 patients completed the questionnaire. The authors eliminated 17, six for incomplete data and 11 for having a primary diagnosis other than PD. The mean age of the remaining 303 patients was 67.1 +/- 10.7 years, and the mean duration of PD was 9.1 +/- 5.7 years. The ESS scores averaged 11.1 +/- 5.9, and in 50.2% of patients the score was abnormally high (>10). Stepwise regression analysis found that sleepiness correlated with longer duration of PD (p < 0.001), more advanced PD (p < 0.004), male sex (p < 0.001), and the use of any DA (p < 0.003). The soporific effects of the three most common DA (pramipexole, ropinirole, and pergolide) were similar. Falling asleep while driving was reported by 63/279 (22.6%) of current drivers and correlated with higher ESS scores (p < 0.05). Other sleep disorders, including RLS, were also frequently reported.
Conclusion: Daytime sleepiness is common in PD and correlates with more advanced and longer duration of PD, and male sex. The DA were also independently associated with daytime sleepiness, but in this group, no single DA was more culpable than the others.