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Progress in elucidating the pathophysiological basis of nonrapid eye movement parasomnias: not yet informing therapeutic strategies

Authors Horvath A, Anikó P, Szucs A

Received 8 September 2015

Accepted for publication 8 December 2015

Published 8 March 2016 Volume 2016:8 Pages 73—79

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NSS.S71513

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Prof. Dr. Roumen Kirov

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Professor Steven Shea

András Horváth,1,2 Anikó Papp,1 Anna Szűcs,1
 

1Department of Neurology, National Institute of Clinical Neurosciences, 2János Szentágothai Doctoral School of Neurosciences, Semmelweis University School of PhD Studies, Budapest, Hungary

Abstract: Nonrapid eye movement (NREM) or arousal parasomnias are prevalent conditions in children and young adults, apparently provoked by any medical, physical, mental, or pharmacologic/toxic agent disturbing normal biorhythm and causing sleep fragmentation or abundant amount of slow wave sleep. The nadir and the ascending slope of the first sleep cycle of night sleep are the typical periods when NREM parasomnias, especially sleepwalking may occur on sleep-microstructural level; microarousals are the typical moments allowing NREM parasomnias. While sleep-disturbing factors have a clear precipitating effect, a genetic predisposition appears necessary in most cases. A candidate gene for sleepwalking has been identified on chromosome 20q12-q13.12 in one sleepwalking family. NREM parasomnias have a genetic and clinical link with nocturnal-frontal lobe epilepsies; possibly through an abnormality of the acetylcholine-related sleep-control system. The association of NREM parasomnias with the human leukocyte antigen system might be the sign of an autoimmune background to be further clarified. In the treatment of arousal parasomnias, the main tools are adequate sleep hygiene and the management of underlying conditions. Their pharmacotherapy has remained unresolved; the best options are clonazepam and some of the antidepressants, while a psychotherapy approach is also justified.

Keywords: sleep disorders, arousal disorders, NREM parasomnia, sleepwalking, sleep terror

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