Nightmares Could Be a Marker For Development Of Autoimmune Diseases Such as Lupus

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Nightmares, though occasional, can signal underlying health issues. A study in eClinicalMedicine indicates they might forewarn autoimmune disease flare-ups. These intense dreams, unsettling for many, may hold deeper significance. Waking from such dreams, heart racing and mind reeling, could indicate more than just a bad night’s sleep.

Disrupted dreaming sleep linked to hallucinations in lupus patients

Researchers from the University of Cambridge and King’s College London conducted a study on systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a complex autoimmune disease affecting multiple organ systems. They investigated neuropsychiatric SLE (NPSLE), which affects the brain and nervous system. The study surveyed 676 lupus patients and 400 clinicians, along with in-depth interviews with 69 patients with systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases (SARDs) and 50 clinicians.

The study revealed a significant association between disrupted dreaming sleep, also known as nightmares, and the emergence of hallucinations in certain lupus patients. Approximately a quarter of patients encountered hallucinations, with the majority experiencing them either at the onset of lupus or afterward. Notably, 61% of lupus patients who had hallucinations reported having disturbed dreams prior to their onset, indicating a potential warning sign specific to lupus compared to other similar diseases.

Professor David D’Cruz from Kings College London suggests that there is aa potential link between lupus patients’ nightmares and disease activity. The findings emphasize the importance of doctors inquiring about neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as nightmares, which are more common in systemic autoimmunity than previously thought. This proactive approach could lead to earlier detection of disease flares.

Brain inflammation increases nightmares in lupus patients

Brain inflammation may be responsible for increased occurrence of nightmares in individuals with autoimmune diseases like lupus. This connection stems from the intricate relationship between the immune system and the brain. Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues, leading to inflammation and organ damage. In lupus, this can affect various organs, including the brain. Researchers suggest that the rise in nightmares could be linked to subtle early changes in the brain triggered by the autoimmune process.

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