Margaret Moline

A new drug has shown promise for regulating sleep in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Lemborexant appeared to benefit individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s dementia who experience an irregular sleep-wake rhythm. People with this problem, called circadian rhythm disorder, tend to take multiple naps each day and cannot sleep steadily through the night.

The study found lower nighttime activity levels, less fragmented sleep and greater total sleep time in participants taking the drug, compared to others given placebos. No serious adverse events were reported, and cognitive function did not appear to decline, according to a statement released at last week’s Alzheimer’s International Conference 2019.

Lemborexant is currently under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a potential drug for treatment of insomnia for adults who have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.

“We know that sleep disturbances are a significant problem for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers,” said researcher Margaret Moline, Ph.D., of Eisai Inc., Woodcliff Lake, NJ. “This may be a promising treatment for sleep problems in individuals with Alzheimer’s.”