CogniFit's Science blog: REM Sleep Disorder Linked To Mild Cognitive Impairment

REM Sleep Disorder Linked To Mild Cognitive Impairment

Scientists have just completed a study that suggests that people with REM disorder are twice as likely to develop mild cognitive impairment or Parkinson’s disease in 4 years compared to those who don’t. The research was published by the Annals of Neurology and has some very interesting findings.

The disorder is called rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder and in healthy people causes a state of paralysis while sleeping. People with REM disorder seem to act out their dreams while they are in REM sleep. Researchers use the Mayo Sleep Questionnaire to identify probably RBD people who were otherwise perfectly neurologically healthy.

The ability to understand that certain patients are at such a higher risk for mild cognitive impairment or Parkinson’s can go a long way towards early prevention. Early intervention in disease that affects the brain cells is really important and can make a big difference in how severe someone’s problems become.

Previous studies from Mayo clinic have showed similar findings. The findings from Mayo Clinic show that 45% of people who suffer from RBD will develop mild cognitive impairment within 5 years of diagnosis. Currently a estimated 500,000 Americans suffer from Parkinson’s disease which is characterized by tremors and shakiness.

What was different about this study compared to others done before is it was the first to quantify the probable RBD in average people not clinical patients. This is a huge finding because is shows we ca predict with pretty good accuracy the onset of some neurodegenerative disorders simply by asking the right questions.

The more we can identify early on when it comes to diseases of the brain the better chance doctors have of fixing those patients or at least minimizing their damage. The brain is incredibly critical to everything we do in a day and losing part of it or it becoming injured has huge impacts on people’s lives. With these kind of early predictors available it can save a lot of lives.

Finding markers like this one in patients is a very important part of that. Even if a disease does have a high cure rate if we don’t have multiple ways to diagnosis many times that diagnosis will never come. The first step to finding out if you have an REM disorder that may end up being mild cognitive impairment is to talk to your doctor about doing a sleep study so you can be monitored and diagnosed.