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The one sleeping habit that could be early warning sign of serious disease

A brand new study has revealed that having nightmares could be a signal of the potential onset of lupus.

The study, conducted by scientists and researchers from King’s College London and the University of Cambridge, found that an increase in nightmares or hallucinations could signal the onset of the disease.

Publishing their study in the journal eClinicalMedicine, the researchers surveyed 676 people living with the autoimmune condition.

During the course of the research, the patients were asked about when certain symptoms, such as loss of balance and depression occurred. One of the most common symptoms reported is what the researchers called “disrupted dream sleep”.

According to the research, a third of patients reported nightmares or disrupted dream sleep before the onset of lupus.

Furthermore, under one in four patients said they experienced hallucinations while 85 percent admitted these did not occur until later. One of the patients surveyed said their nightmares were “horrific” and “like murders, like skin coming off people”.

Speaking about the findings, lead author Dr Melanie Sloan said: “It’s important that clinicians talk to their patients about these types of symptoms and spend time writing down each patient’s individual progression of symptoms.

“Patients often know which symptoms are a bad sign that their disease is about to flare, but both patients and doctors can be reluctant to discuss mental health and neurological symptoms, particularly if they don’t realise that these can be a part of autoimmune diseases.”

Senior study author King’s College London’s Professor David D’Cruz added: “For many years, I have discussed nightmares with my lupus patients and thought that there was a link with their disease activity.

“This research provides evidence of this, and we are strongly encouraging more doctors to ask about nightmares and other neuropsychiatric symptoms – thought to be unusual, but actually very common in systemic autoimmunity – to help us detect disease flares earlier.”

Study author and neurologist at Guys’ and St Thomas’ Hospital Professor Guy Leschziner said this study was “the first evidence that nightmares may also help us monitor such a serious autoimmune condition”.

According to the charity Lupus UK, around 50,000 in the UK are thought to have the condition. The NHS say lupus can cause a variety of symptoms including:

  • Rashes that come on after being in the sun
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Joint and muscle pain.

They added that some patients also experience headaches, a high temperature, mouth ulcers, hair loss, weight loss, depression, anxiety, swollen glands, chest pain, abdominal pain and changes to the colours of fingers and toes.


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