Sleep-related disorders and their relationship with MRI findings in multiple sclerosis.


Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, University of Bologna, Italy; IRCCS Istituto delle Scienze Neurologiche di Bologna, Bologna, Italy. Electronic address: [Email]


Sleep-related disorders have been reported to have a higher prevalence in multiple sclerosis (MS) than in the general population. They are often undervalued for the presence of more severe physical problems and the occurrence at night, without a direct observation in common clinical practice, but if not recognized and treated they can negatively affect the quality of life causing daytime drowsiness and worsening fatigue. Sleep related disorders most commonly reported in MS are as follows: insomnia, sleep-related breathing disorders (SRBD), restless legs syndrome (RLS) and periodic limb movement disorders (PLMD). Secondary narcolepsy, REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) and propriospinal myoclonus have been also described in some case reports or series. The purpose of this review is to correlate the more common sleep disturbances in MS patients to the involvement of specific brain regions, analyzing their relationship with MRI findings. While insomnia is usually secondary to other disabling symptoms such as nocturia or pain, SRBD, RLS, narcolepsy, RBD and propriospinal myoclonus in MS patients can be the consequence of an injury of specific central nervous system (CNS) areas. Lesions in the pontine tegmentum and the dorsal medulla have been associated with SRBD, spinal cord lesions or atrophy with RLS, bilateral lesions in the lateral hypothalamus with narcolepsy-like symptoms, lesions in the dorsal pontine tegmentum with RBD and intramedullary demyelinating plaques in spinal cord with propriospinal myoclonus. MS specialists and general neurologists should be aware of these comorbidities since neuroimaging, which is routinely performed in MS, could provide helpful clinical indications on patients with secondary sleep-related disorders and to categorize symptomatic patients who need to underdo more in-depth sleep studies.


Multiple sclerosis,Neuroimaging,Neurological disorders,Sleep-related disorders,