Are frequent nightmares a warning sign of Parkinson’s?

Dreams that turn into nightmares a sign of an upcoming health problem? Such a causal link has never been demonstrated by modern science. On the other hand, a researcher from the University of Birmingham, England, made a fascinating observation, which does not have the same scientific value as a causality. Seniors who have a nightmare at least once a week are more likely to develop Parkinson disease in the following years. The study is a pre-publication available on the server of The Lancet.

The risk of Parkinson's increases with age.  © Chinnapong, Fotolia

Are seniors who frequently have nightmares more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease?

This observation was made from the follow-up of 3,830 men without signs of Parkinson’s who followed a questionnaire on the frequency of their nightmare during each month. Those who reported having at least one nightmare per week were followed for ten years. In all, 91 men from the cohort developed Parkinson’s disease at follow-up. Calculations show that those who have had nightmares are twice as likely to contract this neurodegenerative disease – and six times more when we tighten over the four years preceding the diagnosis. This means a person with Parkinson’s could have bad dreams before they even feel the symptoms. physical characteristics of this disease such as tremors or muscle stiffness.

We need to do more research in this area, identify the significance of bad dreams and nightmares which may indicate that older individuals who experience dream changes – without an obvious trigger – should seek medical attention. », explains Dr Abidemi Otaiku who conducted this research alone.

Abidemi Otaiku has long studied dreams as part of Parkinson’s disease. In a previous study, she suggested that frequent nightmares could be a harbinger of cognitive and motor decline typical of Parkinson’s. The biological reasons for this change in the subconscious are not known, but will be the subject of future research, as will the validation of the observations made here, on a larger and more diverse group of patients.

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