Nightmares Might Be Autoimmune Disease Flares’ Early Alert


Scientists have discovered that nightmares could be a precursor to flares in diseases like lupus. Most recently, a study led by Melanie Sloan from the University of Cambridge discloses that bad dreams are amongst the many early indicators of lupus intensification. The study brings to light intricate links between our brain’s immune system and dream patterns.

Details of the Study

An online survey involving 676 lupus patients found that around one-third had disturbed dreams a year prior to other disease symptoms manifesting. If true, nightmares may act as an early warning sign for disease activity.

Key Points,

  • Involvement, Surveyed 676 lupus patients.
  • Dreams Issue, One-third had disturbed dreams before other symptoms surfaced.
  • Psychiatric Conditions, roughly 40% of lupus patients develop psychiatric symptoms during flares.

Experts’ Thoughts

Guy Leschziner, a London based neurologist, stated that changes in dreaming might indicate variations in physical and mental wellbeing and could hint at underlying diseases. He further added that it’s the first research showing nightmares also help us keep track of severe autoimmune conditions like lupus.”

Greater Inspection into Nightmares and Hallucinations

Autoimmune disease patients often have intense emotional dreams, but these cognitive signs tend to get ignored. The study also involved interviews with 69 people having linear autoimmune rheumatic conditions, pointing out how troubling these dreams can be.

Patient Reports,

  • A respondent described horrific nightmares during a lupus flare where people’s skin was peeling off.
  • Another patient theorized these nightmares as their immune system fighting against itself.

The research also revealed that over 60% of lupus patients reported an increase in dream disturbances prior to hallucinations, or “daymares.”

Understanding Daymares

Daymares are hallucinations that happen during awake hours. These are like dream states where the person feels confused and disconnected from reality. The term “daymare” helps reduce the stigma attached with hallucinations, thus helping patients talk freely about it.

Patient Quotes,

One participant remarked, “It feels like severe disorientation… the best way to explain is that I feel like I am Alice in Wonderland.”

Clinic Observations

New clinical observations by Sloan and rheumatologist David D’Cruz from Kings College London back these results. According to them, asking lupus patients about nightmares often gets a surprising response. D’Cruz stated, “I’ve had conversations with my lupus patients regarding nightmares for many years and imagined there was a connection with their disease state. This research confirms it.”

Important Notes for Clinicians,

  • Survey Results, only one rheumatologist considered dreams potentially related to lupus flares earlier.
  • Motivation, most experts now consider asking patients about their nightmares to identify and address flares sooner.

Wider Consequences

The findings show broader implications beyond just Lupus nightmares and hallucinations could be early symptoms of numerous other autoimmune diseases too. Similar patterns have been traced in Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis too.

More Findings,

Nightmares indicated potential dementia onset. Multiple sclerosis patients have also reported nasty dreams before a flareup.

Psychological/Neurological Impacts

The psychological/neurological ramifications of nightmares/hallucinations in autoimmune diseases is considerable. They can cause extreme emotional distress and lead to wrong diagnosis or delayed treatment.

Issues

  • Prejudices: Stigma can stop a patient from reporting hallucinations.
  • Wrong Diagnosis: Certain symptoms including nightmares and hallucinations can get misrecognized for psychiatric ailments, causing treatment delays.

A patient shared their challenging diagnostic journey, “I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at 18, and with lupus six months later. Within six months of getting the borderline personality disorder under control, my lupus also improved.”

Awareness is Key

Creating insight into nightmares’ connection with autoimmune diseases could mean improved patient results. Medical professionals who understand and speak about these symptoms may facilitate earlier spotting of autoimmune diseases and can possibly lessen flare severity/frequency.

Message to Clinicians,

  • Question About Nightmares, Inquire about sleep patterns/dreams regularly.
  • Monitor Signs, follow up on neurological/psychological symptom development in order to predict/manage flares.
  • Educate Patients, tell patients about the potential role their nightmares/daymares might play.

Professor Leschziner commented, “This reminds clinicians and patients alike that sleep symptoms could indicate an upcoming relapse.”

Final Thoughts

This revolutionary study emphasizes that it is important to consider sleep disruptions as possible early signs for autoimmune diseases. Increased attention on nightmares along with other neuropsychiatric symptoms can help both doctors and patients manage or even prevent disease flares.


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