Daytime course of sleepiness in de novo Parkinson's disease patients



Fiorenza Giganti, PhD, Department of Psychology, Via di San Salvi 12, 50135 Florence, Italy. Tel.: ++390552055871; fax: ++390556236047; e-mail:


Normal subjects show an increase of sleepiness in the morning, early afternoon and before sleep. In the advanced stages of Parkinson's disease (PD) the mean level of sleepiness is quite high, while with respect to healthy subjects it seems to be unchanged in the early stages. The aim of this study was to evaluate the time–course of the sleepiness level during the wakefulness period in untreated patients with early-stage Parkinson's disease. Eighteen Parkinson's disease patients who had never been treated before with dopaminergic drugs (male = 9, female = 9, age: 68.39 ± 1.89, mean ± standard error) and 18 healthy subjects (male = 9, female = 9, age: 67.22 ± 1.98) were recruited for this study. All subjects underwent continuous actigraphic recording for three consecutive days, during which they also completed the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale (KSS) once an hour throughout wakefulness. Our results showed a higher level of sleepiness in the patients than the controls in the hours following awakening and in the early afternoon, specifically at 08:00 and 14:00 hours (08:00 hours, PD patients, KSS: 3 ± 0.3 versus healthy subjects, KSS: 2 ± 0.2, < 0.05; 14:00 hours, PD patients, KSS: 4.4 ± 0.5 versus healthy subjects, KSS: 3 ± 0.3, < 0.05). We suggest that some daytime hours are sensitive windows showing the first increase of sleepiness which will spread later to the whole daytime.