Parkinson’s disease symptoms mainly relate to movement because it involves a loss of nerve cells in the part of the brain responsible for producing a chemical called dopamine. If these nerve cells die or become damaged, the amount of dopamine in the brain is reduced and this could cause numerous symptoms. According to experts, a sleep disorder could signal Parkinson’s disease years before motor symptoms kick in. If you sleep like this, you could be at risk of developing Parkinson’s disease later in life.
In a study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, sleep disturbances in Parkinson’s disease was investigated.
The study noted: “Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD) are the two most common neurodegenerative disorders and exact a burden on our society greater than cardiovascular disease and cancer combined.
“While cognitive and motor symptoms are used to define AD and PD, respectively, patients with both disorders exhibit sleep disturbances including insomnia, hypersomnia and excessive daytime napping.
“REM sleep behaviour disorder (RBD), characterised by dream enactment accompanied by excessive motor activity, is associated with PD with roughly a third of PD patients displaying this sleep disorder.”
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Sleep problems, including RBD, are common in people who’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, said the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
It continued: “But studies suggest that REM sleep behaviour disorder also can be one of the first symptoms of PD, occurring years before motor symptoms.
“These studies demonstrate a strong link between having RBD and later being diagnosed with Parkinson’s or related conditions such as dementia with Lewy bodies or multiple system atrophy, which have PD symptoms.
“Not everyone with RBD goes on to develop PD, though.”
When to seek help
“See your GP if you’re concerned you may have symptoms of Parkinson’s disease,” advises the NHS.
It is important to alert your GP sooner rather than later as evidence shows you can slow down its progression by making healthy lifestyle choices.
Exercise is one of the most effective measures you can take to delay its progression.
According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, exercise can assist in maintaining balance, mobility and daily living activities, along with potential “neuroprotective” effects.