Sundowning (dementia) - Causes - Disturbances in Circadian Rhythms

Disturbances in Circadian Rhythms

It is thought that with the development of plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer's disease there might be a disruption within the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The suprachiasmatic nucleus is associated with regulating our sleep patterns by maintaining our circadian rhythms. These rhythms are also strongly associated with external light and dark cues. A disruption within the SCN would seem to be an area that could cause the types of confusion paired with sundowning. However, finding evidence for this is difficult due to the need for an autopsy to correctly diagnose Alzheimer's in a patient. Once a patient has died, they have already surpassed the level of dementia and brain damage that would be associated with sundowning. This theory is supported by the effectiveness of melatonin, a natural hormone, to decrease behavioral symptoms associated with sundowning.

Read more about this topic:  Sundowning (dementia), Causes

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