Often nightmares can be a sign of Parkinson’s, according to research

Every night, when we go to sleep, we spend a few hours in the virtual world created by our brains, in which we are the protagonists of a story that we do not consciously create. In other words, we dream.

For most people, dreams are mostly pleasant, sometimes negative, often strange, but rarely scary. Then we remember them.

However, about 5% of people experience quite memorable and frightening nightmares (which wake you up) every week or night.

Recent research shows that Parkinson’s patients are more likely to have nightmares and nightmares than people without the disease.

Studies show that between 17% and 78% of people with Parkinson’s have nightmares every week.

A study I did in 2021 showed that newly diagnosed Parkinson’s patients with recurrent “aggressive or action-filled” dreams had a faster progression of the disease in the years after diagnosis than those who did not have aggressive dreams.

In this way, my research, and similar research, strongly suggest that the dreams of people with Parkinson’s can predict future health outcomes.

I wondered if the dreams of people without Parkinson’s could also predict future health outcomes. My latest research published in The Lancet’s journal eClinicalMedicine shows that they can.

Specifically, the frequent development of nightmares or nightmares in adulthood can be an early warning of Parkinson’s disease in healthy people.

The data collected over 12 years looked at data from a large American study of 3,818 elderly men living independently.

At the beginning of the study, they completed a series of questionnaires, one of which included a question about nightmares.

Participants were informed that they had nightmares for at least a week to see if they were more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s for an average of seven years at the end of the study.

During this period, 91 people were diagnosed with the disease.

Those who initially reported having frequent nightmares were twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s as those who were less than once a week.

Interestingly, a significant proportion of diagnoses occurred during the first five years of the study.

During this time, participants who had frequent nightmares were three times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.

years earlier
These results suggest that older adults who will one day be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease may start having nightmares and nightmares a few years before they have the hallmarks of the disease, such as tremors, stiffness, and slowness of movement.

The study also shows that our dreams may reveal important information about the structure and function of our brain and may be an important goal for neuroscience research.

However, it should be noted that in this study, only 16 of the 368 men with frequent nightmares developed Parkinson’s.

Because Parkinson’s disease is relatively rare, it is unlikely that most people with frequent nightmares will develop it.

However, for those with other known risk factors for Parkinson’s, such as excessive daytime sleepiness or constipation, the finding may be important: knowing that nightmares and frequent nightmares (especially when they suddenly start in adulthood) can be indicative. the disease can lead to early diagnosis and treatment.

One day, doctors may also intervene to stop the disease from developing.

My team plans to use electroencephalography (a technique for measuring brain waves) to study the biological causes of changes in the dreams of people with Parkinson’s now.

This in turn can identify treatments that can treat nightmares and also delay or prevent the onset of Parkinson’s in people at risk of developing the disease.

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