Research Reveals Weekly Nightmares May Be Linked To Higher Dementia Risk

According to a recent study, people who experience bad dreams in middle age are at a higher risk of cognitive decline.

Tanya Srivastava
Written by: Tanya SrivastavaUpdated at: Sep 28, 2022 14:36 IST
Research Reveals Weekly Nightmares May Be Linked To Higher Dementia Risk

Nightmares are unpleasant, distressing and in turn have the ability to provoke negative feelings of fear, anxiety and constant sadness.  According to a research up to 85% of adults report having nightmares, and around 5% report experiencing them every week. These figures are likely to be much higher, if and when bad dreams included.

According to a recent study, people who experience bad dreams in middle age are at a higher risk of cognitive decline. Nightmares can become more frequent with age and are associated with inadequate rest and disturbed sleep. Both of which have been linked to reduced cognitive function and also reasoning.

The study was led by Dr. Abidemi Otaiku, a clinical fellow in Neurology at the University of Birmingham, and it is published in The Lancet journal, eClinicalMedicine. The researchers divided men and women in two age groups; middle and older. All participants completed cognitive tests and questionnaires about their quality of sleep and distressing dreams.

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a group of symptoms involving memory, thinking and social abilities severely enough to interfere with a person's daily life. Dementia generally involves memory loss, memory loss has different causes.

Weekly Nightmares May Be Linked To Higher Dementia Risk

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The researchers found after the test that people between the ages of 35 and 64 who experienced distressing dreams were four times more likely to experience cognitive decline. In addition, people who experienced weekly bad dreams were twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia. According to Dr. Otaiku, “There is a higher frequency of dreams may represent a more advanced stage of neurodegeneration in people.”

The team also found that men are more prone to the risk, with older men who experience weekly distressing dreams being five times more likely to develop dementia.

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