When you sleep, are you more like a log or a restless animal? What I mean is do you stay still, only turning over occasionally, or do you kick, punch, jerk, or even scream? If you said the latter, researchers now suggest that this could be an early sign of dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
The researchers suspect these symptoms are a sign of a disorder which is linked to brain diseases and inflammation plays a large role in this. This is because inflammation causes a decrease in dopamine.
It is already known that people who suffer from rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD) are at a higher risk for debilitating conditions. Researcher Morten Gersel Stokholm explained, “These patients have an inflammation of the brain in the area where the dopamine-producing nerve cells are found.”
RBD patients often thrash and move throughout their sleep while those without RBD stay still while dreaming. RBD symptoms include acting out while dreaming and making noises along with remembering one’s dream.
RBD linked to higher Parkinson’s and dementia risk
The latest findings uncover that RBD patients are at a higher risk for Parkinson’s disease and dementia because they lack dopamine, which is seen in both Parkinson’s and dementia.
In Parkinson’s disease, the group of cells responsible for producing dopamine stop working. The study uncovered that inflammation in the brain as a result of RBD can increase a person’s risk for Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Stokholm continued, “With this study, we have gained new knowledge about the disease processes in the brain in the early initial stages of the disease development. The idea is for this knowledge to be used to determine which patients with the sleep disorder will later develop Parkinson’s disease. At the same time, this is also the knowledge that can help to develop drugs which can stop or slow the development of the diseases.”
Three key signs of Parkinson’s disease include tremors, slow movement, and stiff, inflexible movements.