The development of nightmares could be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease, according to a recent study published in Eclinical Medicine.
Witnessing dreams have long been associated with neurological disease, especially among men. But this is the first study to investigate whether these symptoms are a warning of Parkinson’s or a by-product of the condition.
The researchers came to the conclusion after tracking the health of 3,818 older men with typical brain functioning for 4 years,
The result suggest older adults could be screened for Parkinson’s by asking them about the content of their dreams. Early interventions could then be employed to help stall the possible onset of physical symptoms, like tremors, stiffness, and slowness.
One of the biggest challenges with Parkinson’s disease is early diagnosis. By the time most people figure out they have the disease, they have already lost between 60 to 80 percent of dopamine-releasing neurons in part of their brain stem.
What’s more, a previous study by the same researcher found patients with distressing dreams are five times more likely to show rapid disease progression. Roughly a quarter of Parkinsons patients report frequent distressing dreams from the time of diagnosis, and some report experiencing bad dreams up to 10 years before they were diagnosed.
Past studies suggest that people with Parkinson’s disease are four times more likely to experience frequent nightmares than those in the general population,