Bad dreams may be early warning sign of movement disorder

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new study suggests nightmares could be an early warning sign of Parkinson’s disease.  

Scientists at the University of Birmingham in the UK looked at 3,818 men aged 67 and above between 2003 and 2011–a timeframe when none of the men had Parkinson’s. They were given a questionnaire designed to assess how frequently they had distressing dreams.

Researchers found participants who had more nightmares were three times more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s diseases. Bad dreams, they say, could predict Parkinson’s disease up to 5 years before diagnosis.  

“Although it can be really beneficial to diagnose Parkinson’s disease early, there are very few risk indicators.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–without any obvious triggers–should seek medical advice.” said study author, Dr. Abidemi Otaiku, in a statement.

The researchers plan to continue their research and look at brain scans. Their hope is to discover the physiological reason that may explain the connection between bad dreams and the increased likelihood of developing Parkinson’s disease.