A study of 3,818 men aged 67 and older found that those who had frequent bad dreams in the first five years were more than three times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease
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Adults who have frequent bad dreams and nightmares may be more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, a study suggests.
Previous studies have shown that older people with Parkinson’s are more likely to have bad dreams or nightmares on a regular basis.
Now experts from the University of Birmingham believe there is evidence that frequent bad dreams could be an early warning sign of the disease developing.
The lead author Dr. Abidemi Otaku, from the university’s Center for Human Brain Health, said: “While we need to do more research in this area, identifying the importance of bad dreams and nightmares could suggest that individuals who age experience changes in their dreams as they age – with no apparent trigger.” – should seek medical advice.”
The new study used data from 3,818 men aged 67 years and older from the US Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study.
None of the men had Parkinson’s disease at the start of the study and were asked about the frequency of distressing dreams.
People who reported having bad dreams at least once a week were followed up at the end of the study to see if they were more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
During a seven-year follow-up, 91 cases of Parkinson’s were diagnosed, most within the first five years of research.
Men who had frequent bad dreams in the first five years were more than three times as likely to develop Parkinson’s.
Experts are now planning to use electroencephalography (EEG) to investigate the biological reasons for dream changes.
They will also look at expanding research to include larger populations of people of both sexes and ethnic backgrounds, as well as other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
dr Katherine Fletcher, Research Communications Manager at Parkinson’s UK, said: “We know that many people with Parkinson’s have problems sleeping and sleeping at night.
“While they can occur at any stage, research has often focused on those symptoms that can occur in the early stages of the disease before diagnosis, as they can help us predict who will develop Parkinson’s in the future.
“Previous research has shown that a specific sleep problem known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep disorder, which involves playing out dreams, has been associated with a higher risk of Parkinson’s disease.
“It is estimated that over 70% of patients with REM sleep disorder will develop the condition, although this disorder alone is not sufficient to predict a future diagnosis.
“Previous studies have also shown that the dreams of people with Parkinson’s can be more aggressive in content and are generally more vivid and nightmarish than those of people without the disease. There is also evidence that bad dreams may be linked to later cognitive decline.
“This new study provides further evidence that changes in sleep could be an early sign of Parkinson’s, in which case it links bad dreams to an increased risk of people developing the disease.
“It will be interesting to see how this research progresses as researchers begin to uncover the biological changes that cause these changes in dream content and how this is linked to the progression of neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s.”
“As more is known about the earliest signs of the disease and how the brain may change, research will get closer to better treatments and a cure.
“This is of vital importance for the estimated 145,000 people currently diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the UK.”
The study was published by eClinicalMedicine.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/regular-nightmares-could-sign-parkinsons-27173708 Regular nightmares could be a sign of Parkinson's disease, new study finds