Doing this at night may be a symptom of Lewy body dementia – Best Life


Doing this at night may be a symptom of Lewy body dementia - Best Life

Public awareness of Lewy body dementia (LBD) may have increased since the tragic 2014 suicide of Robin Williams, who had the disease, but LBD is actually the most common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s, according to Medline. disease (AD). Plus, with approximately 1.4 million people in the United States affected by the disease.

AD and LBD are both forms of dementia, and while they share some aspects, there are also important differences. “As the name suggests, Lewy body dementia is thought to be caused by the accumulation of Lewy body proteins in the brain,” reports Verywell Health. “Alzheimer’s is characterized by amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain.” Symptoms also differ – and a specific nocturnal problem is associated with the onset of LBD. Read on to find out what it is.

READ NEXT: Doing this during the day can be an early sign of dementia.


The buildup of Lewy body proteins affects chemicals in the brain, says Kashmira Govind, pharmacist at the Farr Institute. She explains that these chemical changes can affect thinking, movement, behavior and mood.

This can lead to a myriad of symptoms as the disease manifests itself in many different ways. “Hallucinations; seeing, hearing, or smelling things that aren’t there; problems with understanding, thinking, memory, and judgment,” says Govind. “The most common symptoms include changes in cognition, movement, sleep and behavior,” she says — but the signs don’t stop there and are extremely varied. Govind warns that they can include changes in body temperature, dizziness, frequent falls and sexual dysfunction, among other symptoms.

Elderly man not feeling well at home.

The symptoms of LBD can manifest in both the body and the brain. “Lewy body dementia causes progressive mental decline,” explains the Mayo Clinic. “People with Lewy body dementia may have visual hallucinations and changes in alertness and attention.” Other symptoms may resemble those of Parkinson’s disease, such as “rigid muscles, slow movements, difficulty walking and tremors.”

These similarities can often lead to a misdiagnosis (Robin Williams was misdiagnosed with Parkinson’s before his death in 2014; only afterward would an autopsy reveal he had LBD). The main difference between the two diseases is the order in which symptoms appear, according to the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s. (In dementia with Lewy bodies, symptoms of dementia appear first before motor skills become impaired.)

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Man sleeps restlessly

In addition to the neurological and physiological symptoms of Lewy body dementia, very specific behavior can be the first sign of the disease.

“Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder is a sleep disorder in which you physically act out vivid, often uncomfortable dreams with vocal noises and sudden, often violent arm and leg movements during REM sleep — sometimes referred to as dreaming behaviors,” reports the Mayo Clinic. This condition can manifest years before the onset of other LBD symptoms.

“We can diagnose the sleep disorder with a sleep study,” explains the neurologist Jakob Leverenz, MD, tells the Cleveland Clinic. “And there’s a high probability that a person with this disorder will develop LBD, or Parkinson’s disease.” Leverenz notes that this behavior is often first noticed by the patient’s bed partner. “Often when someone comes in for an exam and we ask about sleep disorders, the bed partner will say, ‘Oh, they’ve been doing that for years,'” he notes.

The doctor conducts a medical consultation with an elderly adult patient in the clinic.

There is currently no cure for Lewy body dementia or other forms of cognitive decline such as Alzheimer’s disease. However, the National Institute on Aging (NIH) states that some symptoms can be effectively managed for a while. “An LBD treatment plan can include medication, physical and other types of therapy, and counseling,” says the NIH. “A plan to make all security updates at home and identify all devices can make everyday tasks easier.” Knowing the symptoms of dementia is crucial, as early diagnosis can mean access to treatment and management options.

Govind also recommends adopting a healthy lifestyle that may reduce the risk of dementia. Exercise, eating a healthy diet, limiting your alcohol consumption, and not smoking are all ways you can lower your risk of LBD, Alzheimer’s, and other forms of this debilitating disease.

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