The Daily Telegraph

Bad dreams in middle age could be sign of dementia

- By Joe Pinkstone SCIENCE CORRESPOND­ENT eclinicalm­edicine.

NIGHTMARES in middle age may be a warning sign of dementia, according to a study.

Weekly bad dreams suggest a middleaged person is four times more likely to suffer premature cognitive decline, analysis has found.

People who have bad dreams less than once a week are twice as likely to suffer cognitive decline than those who never have nightmares, researcher­s concluded.

Cognitive decline is a well-known warning sign of dementia, as the brain begins to struggle against the disease.

A team from the University of Birmingham found that bad dreams could become more common several years, or even decades, before the telltale hallmarks of dementia – problems with thinking and memory – set in.

Dr Abidemi Otaiku, the study author, said: “We’ve demonstrat­ed for the first time that distressin­g dreams, or nightmares, can be linked to dementia risk and cognitive decline in healthy adults.

“This is important as there are very few risk indicators for dementia that can be identified as early as middle age.

“We believe bad dreams could be a useful way to identify individual­s at high risk of developing dementia, and put in place strategies to slow down the onset of disease.”

Dr Otaiku believes damage to the brain’s right frontal lobe, caused by neuro-degenerati­on, may be to blame for the link between nightmares and dementia, The Guardian reports. The study was published in


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