Spooky Silhouette Nightmare

Las pesadillas en la mediana edad se relacionan con un mayor riesgo de demencia

Según una nueva investigación, las personas que experimentan pesadillas frecuentes en la mediana edad tienen más probabilidades de ser diagnosticadas con demencia más adelante en la vida.

La mayoría de nosotros consideramos que las pesadillas son bastante inofensivas, pero aparentemente pueden ser una mala señal. Según una investigación de la Universidad de Birmingham, las personas que experimentan pesadillas frecuentes en la mediana edad tienen más probabilidades de ser diagnosticadas con demencia más adelante en la vida.

Una nueva investigación sugiere que las pesadillas pueden volverse comunes varios años o incluso décadas antes de que aparezcan los problemas de memoria y pensamiento característicos de la demencia. El estudio se publicará hoy (21 de septiembre de 2022) en[{” attribute=””>The Lancet journal, eClinicalMedicine.

“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,” said Dr. Abidemi Otaiku, of the University of Birmingham’s Center for Human Brain Health.

“This is important because there are very few risk indicators for dementia that can be identified as early as middle age. While more work needs to be done to confirm these links, we believe bad dreams could be a useful way to identify individuals at high risk of developing dementia, and put in place strategies to slow down the onset of disease.”

Dr. Otaiku examined data from three community-based cohorts in the United States for the study. These included more than 600 adult men and women aged between 35 and 64; as well as 2,600 adults aged 79 and older. All the participants were dementia-free at the start of the study and followed up for an average of nine years for the younger group and five years for the older participants.

Data collection for the study began between 2002 and 2012. Participants completed a range of questionnaires, including the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), which includes a question on how frequently individuals experienced bad dreams.

This data was analyzed using statistical software to assess whether participants with a higher frequency of nightmares were more likely to go on to experience cognitive decline and be diagnosed with dementia.

According to the research results, middle-aged people (35-64) who experience bad dreams on a weekly basis are four times more likely to experience cognitive decline over the following decade, while older people were twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia.

It’s especially interesting that the study found that the associations were much stronger for men than for women. For instance, older men experiencing nightmares on a weekly basis were five times more likely to develop dementia than older men reporting no bad dreams. However, in women, the increase in risk was only 41 percent.

Next steps for the research will include exploring whether nightmares among young people could be associated with future dementia risk, and whether other dream characteristics, such as how often we remember dreams and how vivid they are, could also be used to identify dementia risk. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and electroencephalography (EEG), the scientists also plan to investigate the biological basis of bad dreams in both healthy people and people with dementia.

Reference: “Distressing dreams, cognitive decline, and risk of dementia: A prospective study of three population-based cohorts” 21 September 2022, eClinicalMedicine.
DOI: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2022.101640

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