Sleep Disorders and Cognitive Dysfunctions in Parkinson's Disease: A Meta-Analytic Study

Neuropsychol Rev. 2021 Dec;31(4):643-682. doi: 10.1007/s11065-020-09473-1. Epub 2021 Mar 29.


A relationship between sleep disorders and cognitive dysfunctions was reported in Parkinson's Disease (PD), however, some studies did not confirm the link. A meta-analytic study was performed to investigate the relationship between sleep disorders and cognitive dysfunctions, and to clarify the evolution of cognitive status in PD patients with sleep disorders.The systematic literature search was performed up to November 2020 using PubMed, Scopus, and PsycINFO databases. We included studies published in peer-reviewed journals in English providing results about neuropsychological comparison between patients with or without sleep disorders. Meta-analysis on cross-sectional data included 54 studies for REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD), 22 for Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS), 7 for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), 13 for Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), and 5 for insomnia, the meta-analysis on longitudinal data included 7 studies.RBD was related to deficits of global cognitive functioning, memory, executive functions, attention/working memory, language, and visuospatial abilities. EDS was associated with deficits of global cognitive functioning and attention and working memory abilities, whereas RLS and OSA were related to global cognitive dysfunction. Moreover, we revealed that PD patients with RBD and those with EDS performed worse than PD patients without sleep disorders at follow-up rather than baseline evaluation. Our results suggest that sleep disorders are associated with cognitive deficits supporting indirectly that these, especially the REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, reflect abnormalities of frontal networks and posterior cortical areas. Sleep disorders in patients with PD seem to also increase the risk for long-term cognitive decline.

Keywords: Cognitive dysfunctions; Dementia; Parkinson's disease; REM behavior disorder; Sleep disorders.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / etiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease* / complications
  • REM Sleep Behavior Disorder* / etiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders* / etiology