For most of us, being diagnosed with dementia is our worst nightmare. Because mainstream medicine has yet to find a drug or therapy to cure this memory-robbing disease.
But what if I told you there’s a clear warning sign that dementia could be in your future?
Well, new research shows there is one early warning sign of dementia that could show up as soon as middle age. And don’t worry, if you have this dementia trigger, there are still ways to get ahead of the disease… but you have to start now.
The early warning sign of dementia that I’m talking about is nightmares.
We all have bad dreams from time to time. But, in a first of its kind study, researchers from the University of Birmingham discovered that experiencing frequent nightmares in middle age can be a sign that cognitive decline and dementia are on the horizon.
The recent study included over 600 participants between the ages of 35 and 64 and another 2,600 adults 79 or older. All participants were dementia-free at the beginning of the study.
Scientists collected data on the younger group for an average of nine years and the older group for five years. During this time, participants responded to questionnaires that tracked the frequency of their bad dreams.
Ultimately, the researchers analyzed all the study data using statistical software, looking for a connection between frequent nightmares and the later development of cognitive decline and dementia.
And boy, did they find one!
Nightmares DOUBLED Dementia Risk
The results show that middle-aged folks (between the ages of 35 to 64) who experience weekly nightmares are FOUR times more likely to experience cognitive decline over the following decade.
For seniors, weekly nightmares DOUBLED their chance of receiving a dementia diagnosis.1
“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,” says Dr. Abidemi Otaiku, of the University of Birmingham’s Centre 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.”2
Men Are At Higher Risk
Interestingly, the results showed that this connection between nightmares and cognitive decline is more prevalent in men.
For instance, senior men having nightmares every week were at five times greater risk of dementia than older men reporting no bad dreams. Alhtough, at this time, it is unclear why bad dreams put men in greater danger of memory loss.
Because of their strong results, the research team would like to explore the long-term impacts of nightmares on different age groups – including younger people. Additionally, they want to index the impact of vividness and recollection when it comes to dementia outcomes.
Clearly, there’s a lot more research to be done in this area.
Strengthen Your Memory Today
If you experienced nightmares in middle age – or you’re experiencing them now – it’s time to take action.
First, talk to your doctor about your nightmares and sleeping pattern. They may have suggestions on how to help ease your bad dreams.
Or set up a sleep study at your local sleep lab. This study can help determine if you have any sleep issues that could lead to nightmares.
Additionally, following a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, and a healthy diet that includes brain-boosting nutrients like omega-3s, bacopa, and vitamin B-12 supplements, can help bolster brain function and interfere with the progression of dementia.