STUDY OBJECTIVES: Many people with Parkinson disease experience "sleep benefit": temporarily improved mobility upon awakening. Here we used quantitative motor tasks to assess the influence of sleep on motor functioning in Parkinson disease.
DESIGN: Eighteen Parkinson patients with and 20 without subjective sleep benefit and 20 healthy controls participated. Before and directly after a regular night sleep and an afternoon nap, subjects performed the timed pegboard dexterity task and quantified finger tapping task. Subjective ratings of motor functioning and mood/vigilange were included. Sleep was monitored using polysomnography.
RESULTS: On both tasks, patients were overall slower than healthy controls (night: F2,55 = 16.938, P < 0.001; nap: F2,55 = 15.331, P < 0.001). On the pegboard task, there was a small overall effect of night sleep (F1,55 = 9.695, P = 0.003); both patients and controls were on average slightly slower in the morning. However, in both tasks there was no sleep*group interaction for nighttime sleep nor for afternoon nap. There was a modest correlation between the score on the pegboard task and self-rated motor symptoms among patients (rho = 0.233, P = 0.004). No correlations in task performance and mood/vigilance or sleep time/efficiency were found.
CONCLUSIONS: A positive effect of sleep on motor function is commonly reported by Parkinson patients. Here we show that the subjective experience of sleep benefit is not paralleled by an actual improvement in motor functioning. Sleep benefit therefore appears to be a subjective phenomenon and not a Parkinson-specific reduction in symptoms.