Top Story: Acting Out Dreams Predicts Parkinson’s and Other Brain Diseases
Dr. Michael Howell in the Department of Neurology spoke to Scientific American about rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD). U of M research on RBD, which shows the condition may foreshadow neurodegenerative disease, was cited in the article. While there is no cure for RBD or Parkinson’s, more neurologists are recommending physical activity to improve motor and cognitive symptoms of Parkinson’s. “The evidence suggests that the benefits of exercise are more than just symptomatic,” said Dr. Howell. “It appears that this actually is helping to protect brain cells.”
The acting out of the dreams takes place during the REM phase of sleep. RBD actions include flailing, kicking and jumping out of bed. Certain drugs and antidepressants, or underlying conditions such as narcolepsy or a brain stem tumor, can trigger RBD symptoms.
Some epidemiological studies suggest that experiencing enacted dreams can predict an 80% chance of developing a neurodegenerative disease within the patient’s lifetime. RBD affects an estimated 0.5 to 1.25 percent of the general population and is more commonly reported in older adults, particularly men.