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Nightmares in middle age could be a warning of future dementia: study

“We’ve demonstrated for the first time that distressing dreams, or nightmares, can be linked to dementia risk and cognitive decline among healthy adults in the general population.”

THE HILL – Experiencing frequent bad dreams and nightmares during middle or older age may be a marker for an increased risk of developing dementia, according to new research.

Researchers from the United Kingdom published a study suggesting persistent nightmares may be an early sign of cognitive decline and dementia that can occur several years, or even decades, before dementia symptoms begin to show themselves.

The study analyzed data from three large U.S. studies of health and aging, which included more than 600 adults between the ages of 35 and 64 and 2,600 adults 79 and older.

Participants were dementia-free at the beginning of the study and were followed for an average of nine years for the middle-aged group and five years for the older-aged group.

From 2002 to 2012, participants completed various questionnaires, including one that asks how often they experienced nightmares.

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

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Researchers analyzed the data using statistical software to determine whether participants who had more nightmares were also more likely to develop dementia, and found middle-aged people between 35 and 64 who had bad dreams on a weekly basis were four times more likely to experience a decline in cognitive function over the following decade, a precursor to dementia.

Older participants meanwhile were found to be twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia … READ MORE. 

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