October 28, 2014

Sundown SyndromeSundown Syndrome is one of the more challenging symptoms of Alzheimer’s for both patients and caregivers. Sundowning is characterized by restlessness and anxiety or agitation in the evening hours, as well as fragmented sleep patterns. Many people assume that the disease has broken the Alzheimer’s patient’s biological clock, rendering him or her unable to regulate the body’s sleep-wake system. However, new research indicates that patients’ biological clocks may not be broken at all, just disconnected.

A University of Cambridge study shows that fruit flies that have Alzheimer’s disease still have a functional biological clock, but it has been disconnected from the insect’s sleep-wake cycle. By working with the fruit flies, scientists are hopeful that they can better understand how the brains and bodies of Alzheimer’s patients relate to their still-intact biological clocks in order to create new therapies to combat Sundown Syndrome.

Find out more about the disconnected body clock in Alzheimer’s patients in this article from Alzheimer’s Weekly.