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Strange, Violent Dreams Could Be Trying to Warn Us About Future Brain Disease

A rare sleep disorder known for strange, violent dreams that afflict its victims may also be an early warning signal of future brain disease, Science Alert reports. Researchers say they’ve discovered a link of REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) to neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and dementia. They also found that cells in the REM sleep area are the first to sicken.

There are four stages of sleep, two of which are highly restorative and necessary for a good night’s rest. REM sleep, or rapid eye movement sleep, is the stage in which you dream. Because most of your REM or dream sleep occurs in the latter third of the night, sleep loss at that time results in what is known as “dream deprivation.” And while bad dreams — or violent dreams such as those in the featured article — may disrupt your sleep to the point that you wake, there are other things that steal that REM sleep from you.

With research on dreaming’s link to neurological disease still new, there are many things you can do right now to help yourself get a good night’s sleep, as sleep deprivation has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or illness.

If you’re highly stressed and have trouble falling asleep, try keeping a worry journal and/or gratitude journal to help empty your mind before bed. Count backward from 300 by threes. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and unhealthy fatty foods that can disturb your gut function.

Allow yourself a chance to unwind by unplugging electronic devices at least two hours before bedtime. Make sure you sleep in a dark, cool room. And, don’t take sleeping pills, which really do not work and come with a laundry list of side effects.
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