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International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
Volume 2010, Article ID 716453, 9 pages
Review Article

Circadian Rhythm Disturbances in Patients with Alzheimer's Disease: A Review

Department of Neurology & Psychiatry, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63104, USA

Received 21 April 2010; Accepted 27 July 2010

Academic Editor: Ricardo Nitrini

Copyright © 2010 Dawit A. Weldemichael and George T. Grossberg. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Circadian Rhythm Disturbances (CRDs) affect as many as a quarter of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients during some stage of their illness. Alterations in the suprachiasmatic nucleus and melatonin secretion are the major factors linked with the cause of CRDs. As a result, the normal physiology of sleep, the biological clock, and core body temperature are affected. This paper systematically discusses some of the causative factors, typical symptoms, and treatment options for CRDs in patients with AD. This paper also emphasizes the implementation of behavioral and environmental therapies before embarking on medications to treat CRDs. Pharmacotherapeutic options are summarized to provide symptomatic benefits for the patient and relieve stress on their families and professional care providers. As of today, there are few studies relative to CRDs in AD. Large randomized trials are warranted to evaluate the effects of treatments such as bright light therapy and engaging activities in the reduction of CRDs in AD patients.