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Co-morbidity of complex genetic disorders and hypersomnias of central origin: lessons from the underlying neurobiology of wake and sleep


Rachel Wevrick, PhD, Department of Medical Genetics, 8-16 Medical Sciences Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2H7.

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Appropriate wake and sleep cycles are important to physical well-being, and are modulated by neuronal networks in the brain. A variety of medical conditions can disrupt sleep or cause excessive daytime sleepiness. Clinical diagnostic classification schemes have historically lumped genetic disorders together into a category that considers the sleep dysfunction to be secondary to a medical condition. The unique nature of sleep endophenotypes that occur more frequently in particular genetic disorders has been underappreciated. Increased understanding of the pathophysiology of wake/sleep dysfunction in rare genetic disorders could inform studies of the neurological mechanisms that underlie more common forms of wake and sleep dysfunction. In this review, we highlight genetic developmental disorders in which sleep endophenotypes have been described, and then consider genetic neurodegenerative disorders with sleep characteristics that set them apart from the disruptions to sleep that are typically associated with aging and dementia.