Nightmares in middle-age could be early sign of Alzheimer’s

Nightmares may be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s, according to new research. Middle-aged people who have frequent bad dreams are much more likely to be diagnosed

with the progressive disease later in life according to scientists at Birmingham University's Centre for Human Brain Health. Their research shows that middle-aged people

(35-64-year-olds) who experience nightmares on a weekly basis are four times more like to suffer cognitive decline over the following decade, while older people were twice as

likely to be diagnosed with dementia. The study, published in The Lancet journal, eClinicalMedicine, also found that older men who experience nightmares on a weekly basis

were five times more likely to develop dementia than older men who reported none. In women, however, the increase in risk was only 41 per cent. Dr Abidemi Otaiku, of

the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Human Brain Health, said: “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. “This is important because there are very few risk indicators for dementia that can be identified as

early as middle age.” Scientists involved in the study analysed data on people across the US – more than 600 aged 35-64-years-old and 2,6000 people aged 80 and above.

Participants were asked to complete a series of questionnaires about the frequency of their nightmares, including the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, with statistical

software used to identify associations between higher frequency and cognitive decline.