Parkinson’s disease: An unsettling early warning symptom that can occur during sleep

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition whereby the signals communicated between the brain and nervous system are disrupted. A number of impairments can occur after this disruption, many of which relate to movement. However, problems with movement are not the only warning symptoms indicating a possible risk.

Prashanth Reddy, consultant in movement disorders at King’s College Hospital in London, said: “A normal sleep cycle lasts between 90 minutes and two hours.

“At the end of each cycle, you enter a phase of sleep where you dream, which lasts between 15 minutes and one hour.

“In most people in that state, muscle tone is lost and there’s a biological switch that disconnects the brain from the body, so we don’t act out our dreams.

“But in people with RBD, the switch malfunctions, and they tend to act out their dreams.

“It’s one of several sleep problems that can occur with Parkinson’s.

“Others include insomnia, narcolepsy (excessive daytime sleepiness where patients suddenly drop off) and nightmares.”

Men are slightly more likely to get Parkinson’s disease than women.

Around one in 20 people with the condition first experience symptoms when they’re under 40.

The NHS states: “See a GP if you’re concerned that you may have symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

“They’ll ask about the problems you’re experiencing and may refer you to a specialist for further tests.”

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