The aim of this study was to clarify the nature of the sleep abnormalities (excessive daytime sleepiness [EDS] and rapid eye movement [REM] sleep alterations) in Prader-Willi, Syndrome (PWS). Eight PWS patients, 15 normal, 16 narcoleptic, and 16 obese subjects were recorded in the sleep laboratory, both during daytime and nighttime. A principal-finding was that EDS in PWS was associated with an increased amount and depth of sleep. In PWS patients with EDS, compared to those PWS patients without EDS or the narcoleptic. obese, and normal groups, there were significant decreases in wakefulness and increases in percentage of sleep time (ST) and slow-wave sleep (SWS) both during daytime and nighttime testing. Also, in the adult PWS subjects (n=6), in contrast to normal and narcoleptic subjects, intensity of EDS was correlated with increased nocturnal percentage of ST and SWS and % SWS was positively correlated with % ST (both during daytime and nighttime testing). Another principal finding was that in PWS patients with EDS or shortened nocturnal REM latencies showed a significantly increased number of REM periods, and a decreased average REM interval between REM periods compared to PWS patients with nonshortened nocturnal REM latencies or to the three control groups. Our data suggest that EDS and REM abnormalities in PWS are not manifestations of a narcoleptic-type syndrome or consequences of obesity. We propose that generalized 24-hour hypoarousal is the primary mechanism underlying the sleep abnormalities in PWS patients.
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