Background: This study explored the relationship between symptoms of rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder, thermoregulation and sleep in Parkinson's Disease.
Methods: The study group comprised 12 patients with Parkinson's Disease and 11 healthy age-matched controls. We investigated markers of thermoregulation (core-body temperature profile), circadian rhythm (locomotor actigraphy) and sleep (polysomnography).
Results: The mesor (the mean value around which the core temperature rhythm oscillates) of the core-body temperature in patients with Parkinson's Disease was significantly lower than that of controls. In addition, the nocturnal fall in CBT (the difference between the mesor and the nadir temperature) was also significantly reduced in PD patients relative to controls. Furthermore, in patients the reduction in the amplitude of their core-body temperature profile was strongly correlated with the severity of self-reported rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder symptom, reduction in the percentage of REM sleep and prolonged sleep latency. By contrast, these disturbances of thermoregulation and sleep architecture were not found in controls and were not related to other markers of circadian rhythm or times of sleep onset and offset.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that the brainstem pathology associated with disruption of thermoregulation in Parkinson's disease may also contribute to rapid eye movement sleep behavioural disorder. It is possible that detailed analysis of the core-body temperature profile in at risk populations such as those patients with idiopathic rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder might help identify those who are at high risk of transitioning to Parkinson's Disease.