Complaints of chronic fatigue as well as sleep disturbances are prevalent in Lyme disease. We compared polysomnographic measures of sleeping patients with documented Lyme disease with those of a group of age-matched normal control subjects. Eleven patients meeting Centers for Disease Control criteria for late Lyme disease with serologic confirmation by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and Western blot without a history of other medical or psychiatric illness and 10 age-matched control subjects were studied. Lyme disease patients and controls underwent 2 nights of polysomnography.
Multiple sleep latency testing (MSLT) was performed in the patients. Sleep was staged by standard criteria, and continuity of sleep was assessed for each stage of frequency analysis of consecutive epochs.
All patients studied reported sleep-related complaints, including difficulty initiating sleep (27%), frequent nocturnal awakenings (27%), excessive daytime somnolence (73%) and restless legs/nocturnal leg jerking (9%). Greater sleep latency, decreased sleep efficiency and a greater arousal index were noted in Lyme patients. The median length of uninterrupted occurrences of stage 2 and stage 4 non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep was less in Lyme patients (6.3 +/- 3.0 epochs in patients vs. 11.4 +/- 4.4 epochs in controls for stage 2, p < 0.01, and 4.3 +/- 4.4 epochs in patients vs. 11.2 +/- 6.3 epochs in controls for stage 4, p < 0.01), indicating greater sleep fragmentation. Mean sleep onset latency during the MSLT was normal (12.7 +/- 5.6 minutes). Three patients demonstrated alpha-wave intrusion into NREM sleep. These sleep abnormalities may contribute to the fatigue and sleep complaints common in this disease.