New research has linked a little-known sleep disorder with the later onset of degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, Forbes magazine reports.
“Rapid-eye-movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is not just a precursor but also a critical warning sign of neurodegeneration that can lead to brain disease,” said John Peever, MD, associate professor at the University of Toronto and lead author of the study. “In fact, as many as 80 to 90% of people with RBD will develop a brain disease.”
The research suggests that the link occurs due to brain degeneration attacks the brain circuits that control REM sleep before it attacks parts of the brains involved with neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, according to Forbes.
The American Sleep Disorder Association (ASDA) has currently identified more than 80 unique sleep disorders occurring in children and adults of all ages.
According to medicaldaily.com, RBD prevents the temporary muscle paralysis that normally occurs during REM sleep from happening at all. As a result, an individual with RBD may talk, twitch, jerk, or even fully enact the action taking place in their dreams. Frequently, this can cause injury to the person or their sleeping companion because the person acts out the violent actions in their dreams.
According to Tech Times, 90 percent of individuals who develop RBD are men; most are older than 50 years old. RBD patients are normally treated with a muscle relaxant in conjunction with other medications that can delay or slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other forms of dementia and brain disorders.