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Sleep. 2017 May 1;40(5). doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsx033.

The Impact of Subthalamic Deep Brain Stimulation on Sleep-Wake Behavior: A Prospective Electrophysiological Study in 50 Parkinson Patients.

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Department of Neurology, University Hospital Zurich, University of Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland.
Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital Zurich, University of Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland.


Study Objectives:

This prospective observational study was designed to systematically examine the effect of subthalamic deep brain stimulation (DBS) on subjective and objective sleep-wake parameters in Parkinson patients.


In 50 consecutive Parkinson patients undergoing subthalamic DBS, we assessed motor symptoms, medication, the position of DBS electrodes within the subthalamic nucleus (STN), subjective sleep-wake parameters, 2-week actigraphy, video-polysomnography studies, and sleep electroencepahalogram frequency and dynamics analyses before and 6 months after surgery.


Subthalamic DBS improved not only motor symptoms and reduced daily intake of dopaminergic agents but also enhanced subjective sleep quality and reduced sleepiness (Epworth Sleepiness Scale: -2.1 ± 3.8, p < .001). Actigraphy recordings revealed longer bedtimes (+1:06 ± 0:51 hours, p < .001) without shifting of circadian timing. Upon polysomnography, we observed an increase in sleep efficiency (+5.2 ± 17.6%, p = .005) and deep sleep (+11.2 ± 32.2 min, p = .017) and increased accumulation of slow-wave activity over the night (+41.0 ± 80.0%, p = .005). Rapid eye movement sleep features were refractory to subthalamic DBS, and the dynamics of sleep as assessed by state space analyses did not normalize. Increased sleep efficiency was associated with active electrode contact localization more distant from the ventral margin of the left subthalamic nucleus.


Subthalamic DBS deepens and consolidates nocturnal sleep and improves daytime wakefulness in Parkinson patients, but several outcomes suggest that it does not normalize sleep. It remains elusive whether modulated activity in the STN directly contributes to changes in sleep-wake behavior, but dorsal positioning of electrodes within the STN is linked to improved sleep-wake outcomes.


Parkinson’s disease; deep brain stimulation; sleep; slow-wave activity; subthalamic nucleus.

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