Sleep Disorder May Be Early Indicator for Dementia

A new study indicates that REM sleep behavior disorder may be a very early indicator that a patient will develop dementia or Parkinson’s Disease as much as 50 years down the road.

People with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder often act out their dreams with violent movements, such as punching, which can injure themselves or bed partners.  The study, published in the most recent issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, was conducted using Mayo Clinic records.  Researchers identified 27 people who experienced REM sleep behavior disorder for at least 15 years before developing one of three conditions: Parkinson’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies or multiple system atrophy. Multiple system atrophy is a disorder that causes symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease.

“Our findings suggest that in some patients, conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or dementia with Lewy bodies have a very long span of activity within the brain and they also may have a long period of time where other symptoms aren’t apparent,” said study author Bradley F. Boeve, MD, with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “More research is needed on this possible link so that scientists may be able to develop therapies that would slow down or stop the progression of these disorders years before the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease or dementia appear.”

It is not known how many people who experience REM disorder may develop diseases such as Parkinson’s or dementia.

You can read the news release about this research by clicking here.