BREAKING: Parkinson’s disease sign when you sleep that may be an early warning – new study

The Chase star Paul Sinha gives Parkinson's health update

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Researchers from the University of Birmingham say older adults who start to experience bad dreams or nightmares could be exhibiting the earliest signs of Parkinson’s disease.

Published in the journal eClinicalMedicine, the data suggested older men who frequently experience bad dreams were twice as likely to be later diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

Speaking about the study, lead author Dr Abidemi Otaiku said: “Although it can be really beneficial to diagnose Parkinson’s disease early, there are very few risk indicators and many of these require expensive hospital tests or are very common and non-specific, such as diabetes.

“While we need to carry out further research in this area, identifying the significance of bad dreams and nightmares could indicate that individuals who experience changes to their dreams in older age should seek medical advice.”

The team reached their conclusion by studying large cohort data from the United States.

This data contained data of over 3,800 older men over a period of 12 years.

Researchers say the study shows how dreams can reveal crucial information about the health of the brain and its structure.

Having identified this link, the next step is to try and identify the biological reasons for the dream changes.

Meanwhile, Parkinson’s UK’s Dr Katherine Fletcher said: “We know that many people with Parkinson’s experience sleep and night-time problems.

“While they can be experienced at any stage, research has often focused on those symptoms that may appear in the early stages of the condition, before diagnosis, as they help us to predict who will develop Parkinson’s in the future.”

Dr Fletcher added: “Previous research has shown rapid eye movement (REM) sleep disorder, where dreams are acted out, has been linked to a higher risk of Parkinson’s.

“It is estimated over 70 percent of those with REM sleep disorder will go on to develop the condition.”

While dreams may be an early indicator of Parkinson’s disease, they are not necessarily a symptom.

The most common symptoms of Parkinson’s include:
• A tremor beginning in the hand or arm
• Slowness of movement
• Muscle stiffness.

Although these are the most common signs, Parkinson’s can cause a range of symptoms ranging from the physical to the psychological.

In common with other conditions, there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease.

However, some supportive therapies are available such as physiotherapy and speech and language therapy.

Changes to diet are also recommended and there are some treatments capable of slowing down the progression of Parkinson’s.

The hope is in the future a cure will be found with the ability to reverse or stop the spread of the disease.

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