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During "Rapid Eye Movement", or "REM" sleep, the period of sleep that is associated with dreaming, muscles relax and usually do not move, however those people who have certain sleep disorders are able to lash out, or cry out. Canadian neurologists studied 93 people with "REM sleep behaviour disorder", which usually involves punching or kicking out while dreaming. The study showed that over a quarter of the study participants were diagnosed with a degenerative brain condition over the next five years.

Such sleep behavior may be indicative of some kinds of brain disease like Parkinson's disease, and a rare form of dementia called Lewy body dementia.

Although the exact reason for the link is not clear yet, some researchers have suggested that subtle damage to a part of the brain which regulates sleep may be responsible.

They believe that, in some cases, the problem may happen long before the onset of the main symptoms and this is why the resarchers wanted to see whether otherwise healthy people with the problem were at higher risk.

Their study included the elderly - on average 65 years old – who were already at higher risk of developing dementia or Parkinson's due to their age.

Each of the participants was followed on average for five years, and in that period, 26 of the 93 developed a degenerative brain disease. Fourteen were diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, 7 with Lewy body dementia, four with Alzheimer's Disease, and another diagnosed with a disorder called multiple system atrophy, which involves both Parkinson's and dementia symptoms.

The researchers’predictions suggested that patients of this age with the same sleep disorder would have a greater than 50/50 chance of falling prey to a similar condition over the following 12 years.
These findings are relevant as they enable scientists to advise their patients at risk as well as work in the years to come to come up with ways to protect them.

The head of research at the Alzheimer's Society, Dr Susanne Sorensen, said that the findings were particularly important for Lewy body dementia, which accounts for only 4% of dementia cases. These patients often have vivid nightmares, restless sleep and hallucinations and the new findings suggest that people with the disease may experience sleep disorders years before their other symptoms develop. The new findings are just an initial step in understanding how Lewy body dementia develops but may lead to early detection and even possibly prevention of this devastating disease.


This article is very informative. Thank you for sharing with us.


why is every article here talking about degenerative brain diseases, sadness and death? I get it, its a medically oriented website but there seems to be an overall tone of depression here. Are all the authors depressed?