Distinct Sleep Alterations in Alcohol Use Disorder Patients with and without Korsakoff's Syndrome: Relationship with Episodic Memory

J Clin Med. 2023 Mar 22;12(6):2440. doi: 10.3390/jcm12062440.


Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) results in sleep disturbances that may have deleterious impacts on cognition, especially on memory. However, little is known about the sleep architecture in patients with Korsakoff's syndrome (KS). This study aims at characterizing sleep disturbances in KS compared to AUD without KS and at specifying the relationships with cognitive impairments. Twenty-nine AUD patients (22 without KS and 7 with KS) and 15 healthy controls underwent a neuropsychological assessment and a polysomnography. The severity of sleep-disordered breathing and sleep fragmentation was similar in AUD and KS patients compared to controls. Sleep architecture differed between both patient groups: the proportion of slow-wave sleep was reduced in AUD patients only, while a lower proportion of rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep was specifically observed in KS patients. The proportion of REM sleep correlated with the severity of episodic memory deficits when AUD and KS were examined together. These data provide evidence for both similarities and specificities regarding sleep alterations in AUD patients with and without KS. They also indicate that altered sleep architecture may contribute to the pathophysiology of alcohol-related memory disorders.

Keywords: Korsakoff’s syndrome; alcohol use disorder; episodic memory; polysomnography; sleep.