Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by a variety of symptoms, including tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with movement. Unfortunately, Parkinson’s disease often goes undiagnosed until its later stages, making it difficult to effectively treat and manage the condition.
However, recent research has shown that Parkinson’s disease may present with more subtle symptoms years before the onset of obvious motor symptoms. One such symptom is a disorder known as REM sleep behavior disorder.
What is REM Sleep Behavior Disorder?
Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is the stage of sleep when most dreaming occurs. REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal behavior during REM sleep.
Normally, REM sleep causes your body to enter a state of temporary paralysis so that you don’t physically respond to what happens while you dream.
People with RBD act out their dreams, resulting in movements such as kicking, punching, or jumping out of bed. These movements can be violent and can result in injury to the person or their bed partner.
RBD and Parkinson’s Disease
Sleep and vigilance symptoms are common among patients with movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease. One study concluded that up to 60% of Parkinson’s disease patients experience insomnia, 15-59% show REM sleep behavior disorders (RBD), and 30% show excessive daytime sleepiness.
RBD is estimated to affect around 1% of adults. But of those affected, nearly 80% will go on to develop Parkinson’s disease or another neurodegenerative disorder in the next 10-15 years.
This may be due to the fact that RBD is associated with degeneration of the brainstem nuclei that control REM sleep, which is also a key characteristic of Parkinson’s disease.
An Opportunity For Early Detection of Parkinson’s Disease
Being able to detect Parkinson’s disease early is crucial for effective treatment and management of the condition. RBD may be one of the earliest and most reliable indicators of Parkinson’s disease, and it is a symptom that can be easily identified in a sleep study.
This connection between RBD and Parkinson’s disease provides a great opportunity for healthcare teams to catch the condition at an earlier stage and make a significant impact on the outcomes for those living with the disease.
If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of RBD, talk to your doctor about the need for further evaluation.
It is important to note that not all cases of RBD lead to Parkinson’s disease, and not all cases of Parkinson’s disease are preceded by RBD. However, the correlation between the two is significant enough that it warrants further investigation and evaluation.
Even if your symptoms are not related to Parkinson’s disease, RBD can prevent you from getting the restful sleep you need to stay healthy.
In addition to RBD, other sleep disorders, such as insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness, have also been linked to Parkinson’s disease.
Other prediagnostic features of Parkinson’s include:
● balance impairments
● erectile dysfunction
● urinary dysfunction
These early warning signs of neurodegenerative disease may appear years before the onset of the more obvious symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Tell your primary doctor about any concerning symptoms you are experiencing, even if you are not sure how they may be connected.