“Impaired sleep-wake cycle, the most robust output rhythms of the circadian system, is significantly affected by neurodegenerative disorders, may precede them by decades, and may also impact their progression” (Videnovic and Zee, 2015).
^^^ that’s the ‘safe’ way of saying circadian disruptions likely cause neurodegenerative disorders. And if you have one or more of these disorders, addressing circadian rhythms should be first line therapy.
Sleep loss itself is a risk factor for cerebrovascular events, likely due to alterations in autonomonic nervous system or immune homeostasis, and sleep disorders are common in stroke victims.
The robust circadian variation in cortisol declines in aging adults, and the degree it is lost is associated with cognitive impairments and crappy sleep.
Parkinson’s Disease: circadian variation in symptoms — it’s almost always worse in the evening regardless of when dopaminergic medications are administered. Dopamine itself is a circadian hormone. All of these suggest circadian rhythms should be part of the treatment program. Indeed, 90% of patients report impaired sleep and reduced daytime alertness.
Alzheimer’s Disease: one of the big ones. Circadian dysregulation has a major impact on quality of life and represents a major reason for institutionalizing these patients. That’s expensive. Preclinical studies have suggested this is a function SCN atrophy (the master clock) and impaired pineal function (source of melatonin). Those two observations argue largely for the role of circadian dysregulation in the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. No one is talking about light therapy and blue blockers for Alzheimer’s patients. No one.
Next up is the modulation of circadian clocks by nutrients and food factors, but for that, you’re gonna have to head over to Patreon! Five bucks a month for full access. It’s ad-free and you can cancel at any time.
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