We spend a third of our lives sleeping. And a quarter of our time is spent sleeping. So, for the average person living in 2022, with a life expectancy of approximately 73Which sees in more than six years of dreaming.
Yet, given the central role dreaming plays in our lives, we still know very little about why we dream, how the brain creates dreams, and more importantly, the importance of our dreams to our health. Maybe – especially the health of our brains.
My latest study, published in The Lancet e-Clinical Medicine magazineshows that our dreams can reveal a surprising amount of information about our brain health.
More specifically, it shows that recurring nightmares and nightmares (nightmares that wake you up) during middle or old age may be linked to an increased risk of developing dementia. Madness,
In the study, I analyzed data from three large US studies on health and aging. These included more than 600 people aged 35 to 64 and 2,600 people aged 79 and older.
All participants were free of dementia at the start of the study and were followed for an average of nine years for middle-aged and five years for older participants.
At the start of the study (2002–12), participants completed a series of questionnaires, in which one asked how often they had nightmares and nightmares.
I analyzed the data to find that participants with a higher frequency of nightmares at the start of the study were more likely to experience cognitive decline (a rapid decline in memory and thinking skills over time) and to be diagnosed with dementia.
I found that middle-aged participants who experienced nightmares every week were four times more likely to experience cognitive decline (precursors of dementia) Over the next decade, while older participants were twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia.
Interestingly, the association between nightmares and future dementia was much stronger for men than for women.
For example, older men who reported having nightmares every week were five times more likely to develop dementia than older men who reported no nightmares.
In women, however, the increase in risk was only 41 percent. I found a similar pattern in the middle aged.
Overall, these results suggest that repeated nightmares may be one of the earliest symptoms of dementia, which may precede the development of memory and thinking problems by many years or decades – especially in men.
Alternatively, it is also possible that having regular nightmares and nightmares may also be the cause of dementia.
Given the nature of this study, it is not possible to be certain which of these theories is correct (although I doubt it is the former). However, regardless of which theory turns out to be correct – the major implication of the study remains the same, that is, having regular nightmares and nightmares during middle and old age has a higher risk of developing dementia later in life. The risk may increase. ,
The good news is there are recurring nightmares treatment, and has already been shown to reduce the formation of first-line medical treatments for nightmares. abnormal protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease,
there has also been Case Report Showing improvement in memory and thinking skills after treating nightmares.
These findings suggest that treating nightmares may help slow cognitive decline and prevent dementia from developing in some people. This will be an important opportunity to explore in future research.
The next phase of my research will involve investigating whether nightmares in young people may also be associated with increased dementia risk. This can help determine whether nightmares cause dementia, or whether they are simply an early sign in some people.
I also plan to investigate whether other dream characteristics, such as how often we remember our dreams and how vivid they are, may also help determine whether people develop dementia in the future. How likely is it to happen?
This research may not only help shed light on the relationship between dementia and dreaming, but may provide new opportunities for earlier diagnosis – and possibly earlier interventions – but it may also shed new light on the nature and function of the mysterious phenomenon we call Dreaming,