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Nightmares are mysteriously linked to autoimmune diseases


A study conducted in the United Kingdom reveals a connection between nightmares and autoimmune diseases, such as lupus; the idea is that doctors view dreams as a sign of caution

Many people view nightmares as a sign that something bad is about to happen. This type of interpretation is almost impossible to prove scientifically, but that doesn’t mean that bad dreams are insignificant. Some researchers in the United Kingdom have in fact discovered a still mysterious relationship between the frequency of nightmares and the appearance of nightmares Autoimmune diseaseslike lupus.



Scientists observed that people had nightmares in their sleep or hallucinations more often before experiencing them lupus symptoms, a disease that can affect the brain. When the individual had already been diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, these bad dreams could be seen as an indicator of a probable crisis.

“This is the first evidence that nightmares can also help us monitor a serious autoimmune disease like lupus, and is an important warning to patients and doctors that sleep symptoms can inform us of an impending relapse,” says Guy Leschziner, a neurologist at the National Health Service (SSN) and one of the authors of the study, in a note.

Nightmares and autoimmune diseases

Published in the magazine eClinicalMedicinethe study involves the analysis of online questionnaires sent by 676 cohabiting people lupus. Additionally, 69 patients participated in an in-depth interview to detail their relationship with the disease. More than 400 doctors were interviewed.




Study reveals link between nightmares and autoimmune diseases, such as lupus (Image: LightFieldStudios/envato)

According to the authors, 3 out of 5 patients reported having had nightmares, some of which were distressing, prior to the lupus attack. Some patients said they dreamed of attacks, traps, crushing or even falling. They were usually followed by hallucinations.

Interpreting the dreams of lupus patients

An Irish patient describes the dreams as “horrible”. For the individual, those nightmares became more vivid and terrifying as the body suffered from the autoimmune disease.

Speaking of nightmares

“It is important that doctors talk to their patients about these types of symptoms and spend time observing the individual progression of each patient’s symptoms,” says Melanie Sloan, a researcher at the University of Cambridge and another author of the study.

In a way, night terrors and hallucinations can serve as an early warning sign for autoimmune diseases. Therefore, it is worth discussing these topics within the office, as Sloan points out.

Despite this research, it is not the first time that nightmares have been associated with illnesses. Another research group recently joined the frequent occurrence of bad dreams with an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. Either way, science is still unable to explain the mysterious connection between brain problems and dreams. From the opposite side, a good night’s sleep can protect against dementia.

Source: eClinicalMedicine AND University of Cambridge

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