Dementia: Sleep difficulties? The early signs of Lewy body found in the way you sleep

LEWY body dementia, or dementia with Lewy bodies, is the third most common cause of dementia, roughly affecting 100,000 people in the UK. It’s caused by small round clumps of protein that build up inside nerve cells in the brain.

According to the Mayo Clinic, sleep difficulties could be warning symptoms of Lewy bodies.

It explains: “You may have rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behaviour disorder, which can cause you to physically act out your dreams while you’re asleep.”

The National Sleep Foundation added typical signs to spot of REM sleep behaviour disorder, which include physically moving limbs or even getting up and engaging in activities associated with walking.

But it’s important to note REM sleep behaviour disorder isn’t always an indicator of Lewy body dementia.

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The NHS lists other symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies to watch out for:

Problems with understanding, thinking, memory and judgement – this is similar to Alzheimer’s disease, although memory may be less affected in people with dementia with Lewy bodies

Periods of fluctuating alertness alternating with periods of confusion or sleepiness – this can change over hours or days

Slow movement, stiff limbs and tremors (uncontrollable shaking)

Hallucinations (usually seeing or sometimes hearing things that aren’t there)

Fainting spells, unsteadiness and falls.

Other signs to spot of LBD include:

  • Movement disorders
  • Poor regulation of body functions (autonomic nervous system)
  • Cognitive problems
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Fluctuating attention
  • Depression
  • Apathy.

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