Nightmares Connected to Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia

August 5, 2010

New research shows a connection between a sleep disorder and neurodegenerative disorders.

As if kicking, punching, and yelling while dreaming weren’t bad enough for those with REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) and those who share their bed, research to appear in the August 10 issue of Neurologyshows that the disorder may be the initial manifestations of synucleinopathies, like Parkinson’s disease (PD), multiple system atrophy (MSA), and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).

With earlier studies showing that roughly 80-100% of those with RBD eventually develop a neurodegenerative disorder, the current study—lead by Bradley Boeve, MD, Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN—sought to determine how early RBD could develop before onset of a neurodegenerative disorder, with the hope that spotting RBD early on could allow for monitoring and treatment of patients well before brain deterioration.

Their big finding: in one of 27 patients who were studied, the median interval between RBD and neurological disorder onset was 25 years, with one patient experience RBD 50 years before developing PD.

Read the full article in Neurology, and see what WIREDmagazine science writers had to say.