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When we go to sleep every night, we expect to have a sound sleep or see good dreams unfolding during our nap time. However, if we see bad dreams or nightmares during the virtual world created by our brains, it can be both bizarre and upsetting. Additionally, if it happens on a weekly or even nightly basis, it can be a cause of worry as bad dreams or nightmares actually can signify an onset of Parkinson’s disease.

According to a new study, published in eClinicalMedicine, a group of older men who experienced frequent bad dreams were actually twice as likely to be later diagnosed with Parkinson’s as compared to those who did not. While previous studies have claimed that individuals suffering from Parkinson’s disease experience nightmares and bad dreams more than other general adults, this is the first time that nightmares have been considered as a risk indicator for Parkinson’s.

parkinson's disease
Every year on April 11, the world observes Parkinson’s Day. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Also, read: Here’s how physiotherapy can help you manage Parkinson’s disease

What exactly is Parkinson’s disease?

It is one of the most common neurodegenerative and movement disorders, which causes loss of controlled muscle activity. While its symptoms develop overtime, they usually start with only a noticeable tremor in just one hand. With tremors being common, Parkinson’s disease also causes stiffness or slowing of movement, eventually leading to your speech becoming soft or slurred.

When to seek medical help?

If you are experiencing changes in your dreams in older age, without any outside trigger, then you should seek help from a health professional.

In the study, lead author Dr Abidemi Otaiku, of the University’s Centre for Human Brain Health, maintains, “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.”

Until further research in this area, identifying the significance of bad dreams can be an indicator of Parkinson’s disease. It is so because older adults who get diagnosed with Parkinson’s later in their lives likely begin to see bad dreams and nightmares a few years before they actually see other main characteristic features of Parkinson’s.

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