Your Sleeping Position Says All the Truth About You
What Your Sleep Style Says About You
Your bedmate may fear your sleep karate, but he’s not the only one in danger: If you spend some nights chopping, kicking, and shouting in your sleep (Hi-yah!included), you may be at greater risk for one form of dementia, finds new research from the Mayo Clinic.
The Mayo team examined the medical records of 75 people suffering from “dementia with Lewy bodies”—the second most-common form of dementia where protein builds up in the parts of your brain responsible for movement. The researchers found many of those dementia sufferers had a history of “rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder,” (a.k.a. the “Jimmy Legs” toSeinfeldfans). In fact, researchers found that people who act out their dreams with flailing limbs or shouts are up to five times more likely to develop dementia with Lewy bodies.
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Lewy body dementia appears to start in the brainstem and slowly make its way up to the cerebral cortex—a process that can take decades, explains Bradley Boeve, MD, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Boeve says the brain circuitry that controls REM sleep is in the lower brainstem, which may explain why his research found future dementia sufferers start kicking and screaming in bed 30 years or more before cognitive decline begins.
If you do toss and turn while you dream, don’t freak out. Fitful sleep doesn’t guarantee you’ll develop dementia, Dr. Boeve stresses. And the occasional moan or movement during sleep isn’t cause for concern, he says. But if you flail, punch, kick, or shout out more than a few times a month, it’s time to meet with a sleep clinician, he advises.
While there are no cures for dementia, there are certain drugs that can reduce the severity of the syndrome once cognitive decline begins. Along with treating any sleep disorders, Dr. Boeve says exercising regularly, limiting your alcohol intake, and avoiding smoking are proven methods for lowering your risk for old-age cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s. For more ways to stay sharp, check out Smart New Strategies To Ward Off Dementia.
Video: What Your Sleeping Style Says About You
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