According to the experts at University of BirminghamOlder adults who begin to have nightmares or bad dreams may have early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
In a group of elderly males, recent research published in the journal electronic medicine It found that those who often had nightmares were twice as likely to eventually receive a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease than those who did not.
Although previous research has revealed that people with Parkinson’s disease have more nightmares and disturbing dreams than adults in the general population, the possibility of nightmares as a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease has not been explored.
Lead author, Dr Abideemi Otaiko, of the University’s Center for Human Brain Health, said: ‘Although it can be really helpful in diagnosing Parkinson’s disease early, there are very few risk indicators and many of them require expensive or very common hospital tests. and nonspecific, such as diabetes.”
He continues, “While more research is needed in this area, determining the significance of bad dreams and nightmares could suggest that individuals who experience changes in their dreams at an older age – without any apparent reason – should seek medical advice.”
The team used data from a large cohort study from the USA, which contained 12-year data from 3,818 older men living independently. At the start of the study, the men completed a set of questionnaires, one of which included a question about sleep quality.
At the conclusion of the experiment, participants who had at least one terrible dream were followed each week to see if they were more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
91 Parkinson’s patients were identified throughout the follow-up period. Researchers discovered that people who had frequent bad dreams were twice as likely to have the condition compared to those who did not. The majority of diagnoses were made in the first five years of research. Participants who had frequent nightmares throughout this time period were more than three times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.
The findings suggest that older adults who will one day be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease are more likely to begin experiencing bad dreams and nightmares a few years before they develop the hallmarks of Parkinson’s disease, including tremors, stiffness and slow movement.
The study also shows that our dreams can reveal important information about brain structure and function and may prove to be an important target for neuroscience research.
The researchers plan to use electroencephalography (EEG) to look at the biological causes of dream changes. They will also look at replicating the findings in larger and more diverse groups and explore possible links between dreams and other neurodegenerative diseases such as
Reference: “Distressing dreams and risk of Parkinson’s disease: A population-based cohort study” by Dr. Abidemi I. Otaiku, 8 June 2022, eClinicalMedicine.
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