Huntington’s disease research news. In plain language. Written by scientists. For the global HD community.
Common depictions of HD emphasizing only its movement symptoms paint an incomplete picture of the real disease. HD causes both motor and non-motor symptoms that, together, affect the entire body. Now, scientists are using a broader lens to explore this full set of HD symptoms and determine how symptoms might be related in the disease.
Many people with Huntington's disease have problems sleeping. Sleep-wake cycles are controlled in part by melatonin, a hormone that makes you drowsy at bedtime. Scientists in London measured melatonin levels in HD patients, gene carriers, and unaffected individuals and found changes in the levels and timing of melatonin release. This could help to explain the sleep disruptions that occur in HD.
Studies have shown that HD patients tend to get less efficient sleep, fewer hours of sleep, and wake up more times during the night. However, sleep in Huntington’s is under-researched because historically scientists have investigated HD as a disease of movement impairment, and sleep problems don’t seem to have anything to do with movement impairment.
In part two of our special feature on sleep problems in Huntington's disease, we bring you Prof Morton's 'simple rules for a good night's sleep', distilled from her comprehensive review of sleep research in Huntington's disease.
Many Huntington's disease patients have problems with sleep and in the control of daily or 'circadian' rhythms. These problems may actually be part of the range of symptoms in HD, and managing or treating them directly may be beneficial. In this special HDBuzz feature, sleep expert Prof Jenny Morton looks at the science behind sleep problems and solutions in Huntington's disease. Coming soon, part 2: Prof Morton's 'Simple Rules for a Good Night's Sleep'.