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Sleep Disorders may be an Early Warning for Parkinson’s Disease

Sleep disorders are being tied to an increasing number of conditions. Studies show a connection between disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) with heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and a number of other conditions. We’re now seeing links between many of these disorders and other conditions that develop later in life.

Mark Levy DDS is trained in the treatment of sleep disorders. He’s a sleep disorder expert. He’s made it his mission to do everything he can to help people who suffer from sleep disorders. As a result, he and his staff stay up to date on the latest developments and studies regarding sleep disorders.

Sleep Disorders and Their Effect on the Brain

As scientists continue to study disorders such as OSA, they’re learning how devastating these conditions truly are. What we’re learning now is the long term effect they have on the brain. We’re also learning that disordered sleep is sometimes a sign of a serious neurological problem. Studies are pointing towards theories that some sleep disorders could actually be precursors for other serious conditions. Research shown at a conference in Canada pointed to Parkinson’s disease as one of the possible links.

According to Cosmos magazine:

John Peever of the University of Toronto told the 2017 Canadian Neuroscience Meeting, the annual gathering of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience, that factors that interfere with dream-sleep could signal the breakdown of circuits within the brain stem.

Dreaming occurs during the phase of sleep involving rapid eye movement, or REM sleep. This stage of sleep provides mental images during muscle paralysis. During REM sleep there is significant activity in the cortical region of the brain. There’s a general lack of understanding when it comes to the neurons and synaptic relationships involved in the production of REM sleep. However, Peever’s research is helping us appreciate the complicated relationship. Cosmos magazine continues:

Peever, however, has identified certain cells, which he dubs REM-active neurons, that seem critical to the process. Using rats, he and his team established that they are responsible for initiating dream sleep.

“When we switch on these cells, it causes a rapid transition into REM sleep,” he said before the meeting.

Peever’s research also shows that some serious sleep disorders result in dysfunctional REM-active neurons. These dysfunctional neurons commonly occur in cases of narcolepsy and other sleep disorders.

The Connection between Dysfunctional REM-Active Neurons and Sleep Disorders

Over eighty percent of individuals suffering from sleep disorders involving dysfunctional REM-active neurons go on to develop other, more severe, neurological conditions. These conditions include Parkinson’s disease as well as Lewy body dementia.

This leads us to believe that these sleep disorders could be an early warning of these severe neurological conditions as stated here:

“Our research suggest sleep disorders may be an early warning sign for diseases that may appear some 15 years later in life,” he said.

“Much like we see in people prone to cancer, diagnosing REM disorders may allow us to provide individuals with preventative actions to keep them healthy long before they develop these more serious neurological conditions.”

This research provides us with the opportunity to provide preventative treatment to people who are at a much greater risk for developing Parkinson’s or other neurological disorders. We now have a connection showing these patients are more vulnerable to these conditions. We can now develop treatments that not only treat the sleeping disorder itself, but also act as a preventative measure for the condition that has the potential to develop later on.

This research put us on track towards working for a new treatment able to prevent the majority of cases of these advanced neurological conditions. Through additional studies we may be able to find a preventative cure.

Treating Sleep Disorders Now

While it still may be quite some time before we’re able to create a preventative cure, one thing is certain. We have the power and the ability to treat many sleep disorders now. Treating your sleep disorder is extremely important for your overall wellbeing.

If you suspect that you or a loved one may have a sleeping disorder, speak with your doctor about a sleep study. It’s a diagnostic test used to gather information that can only be collected while you sleep. Your doctor then compiles and interprets this information. This will in turn lead to a possible diagnosis.

If you are, in fact, diagnosed with a sleep disorder it is imperative you begin treatment as soon as possible. Untreated disorders can significantly degrade your health over time. Not only do they put excessive stress on your heart and brain, but you become a risk for others. Without adequate sleep it can become difficult to focus. A lack of sleep is a contributing factor to many motor vehicle accidents and workplace injuries.

Treating your sleep disorder won’t only improve your long term health; it will also reduce the likelihood of accidents in the immediate future. Thankfully, there are many types of treatment options available for individuals suffering from sleep disorders.

Sleep Disorder Treatment Options

Many patients who suffer from OSA are following a new treatment path. Rather than turning to their doctors for treatment, they’re turning to sleep certified dentists. These dentists are able to provide them with customized oral appliances that help prevent their airway from collapsing.

This new treatment option is quickly becoming a favorite over the traditional method using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Patients enjoy being able to sleep without the discomfort of a machine. They’ve reported that the OSA oral appliance is much more convenient and comfortable to wear.

You can find out if you’re a candidate for an OSA oral appliance by making an appointment with a dentist certified in treating sleeping disorders. Unfortunately, not everyone is a candidate. However, many patients who fall into the mild to moderate range of OSA are able to use this form of treatment.

Call Mark Levy DDS today at (614) 777-7350 for more information on using OSA oral appliances to treat sleep disorders.