We spend a third of our lives sleeping and a quarter of that time dreaming. A person who lives about 73 years dreams for more than six.
Although dreams play a central role in our lives, we know little about why we dream or how dreams are created. More importantly, we still don’t know what dreams mean for health – especially for the brain health.
In an analysis recently published in ClinicalMedicinegives lancetresearcher Abidemi I. Otaiku revealed that having frequent dreams – more precisely nightmares, which make us wake up – during and after middle age may be associated with an increased risk of developing dementia.
The research brings together data from three North American health and aging studies, encompassing 600 people aged between 35 and 64 and 2,600 people aged 79 and over. Participants were followed for nine years and five years, respectively.
The investigator found that middle-aged participants who reported weekly nightmares were four times more likely to experience cognitive decline (a precursor to dementia) over the next decade, while older participants were twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia.
It also concluded that the link between nightmares and future dementia was very stronger among men than among women. Older men with weekly nightmares were five times more likely to develop dementia than those who did not report nightmares.
In women, the increased risk was 41%. According to conversationa similar pattern was found in the middle-aged group.
These results suggest that frequent nightmares may be one of the first signs of dementia. Alternatively, continued the article from conversationmay indicate that constant nightmares are the root of dementia – your cause.
Given the nature of this study, it is not possible to be sure which of these theories is correct, said Abidemi I. Otaiku. However, the results remain the same: having regular nightmares during middle age and old age may be linked to an increased risk of developing dementia.
In another study, the same author concluded that nightmares are a symptom that appears a few years before other signs of Parkinson’s, such as tremors or difficulty in movement, specifically among older adults.
The good news is that the Recurring nightmares are treatable. Recent findings have suggested that the treatment may help slow cognitive decline and prevent the development of dementia in some people.