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Night-time screams an indicator of Parkinson’s disease?

Thursday December 22, 2005

19 Dec 2005(NewKerala.com) - Cries in the night and wild thrashing during sleep could be signs of Parkinson’s disease, a new report says.

Disruptions of the R.E.M. (rapid eye movement) sleep cycle could be an early warning of the onset of Parkinson’s disease, says Professor Claudia Trenkwalder in the January issue of German journal Psychology Today.

Muscles are normally relaxed and disconnected from motor controls during the R.E.M. sleep cycle, when a person experiences his most intense dreams. But if the R.E.M. cycle is disturbed, connections are remade says Trenkwalder, medical director of the Paracelsus-Elena Clinic in the city of Kassel.

Those affected might flay about with their arms and legs, lash out, talk, sing or scream. The behaviour is not necessarily linked to an aggressive personality. But such behaviour could be dangerous to partners and also to the individual. For example, a person could fall out of bed.

Long-term studies have shown that 80 to 90 percent of all Parkinson’s patients suffer from such sleep disruptions. Often they are a warning sign of Parkinson’s disease, which usually manifests itself five to 10 years later, Trenkwalder said.

Parkinson’s disease occurs when the brain’s nerve cells are destroyed. It has been speculated that during the run of the disease, the centres of the brain that regulate sleep are also attacked.