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Bad Dreams and Parkinson’s Disease

We Asked, You Answered: "How many years or doctors did it take to confirm your Parkinson's diagnosis?"

Sleep is a commonly discussed topic in the Parkinson’s community — and among researchers looking at risk factors for the disease. The latest potential connection: nightmares. 

A study from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom published this week in eClinicalMedicine found people with frequent bad dreams (at least once a week) were more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. The scientists looked at data collected over time from 3,818 men aged 67 years and over. Those who reported frequent nightmares were more likely to develop Parkinson’s. 

Overall, 91 men (2.4%) — with or without frequent nightmares — developed Parkinson’s. This finding could provide an important clue for scientists hoping to understand risk factors and disease experience, but much more research is needed to understand this risk and its reasoning. 

Many people with Parkinson’s also have nightmares or other sleep problems, such as trouble falling or staying asleep or acting out dreams (yelling, kicking, punching or even falling out of bed). To learn more about sleep and Parkinson’s, watch our webinar and download our sleep guide. We share tips to manage sleep problems and cover treatment options.  

Researchers are studying sleep and other indicators of Parkinson’s risk to better understand how the disease starts and how to better treat it. Our landmark Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) study is enrolling people with and without Parkinson’s disease, including people who act out their dreams. Join the study that could change everything. 

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