Suffering from nightmares where you cry, punch kick jump and grab uncontrollably? You might have (RBD) Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behavior Disorder.

Studies published in the journal Lancet Neurology have found that Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD) has been linked to increase risk of Parkinson's disease.

Present studies have shown that Forty Five percent of patients who suffer from RBD developed Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative disease.

The study using neuroimaging technique (SPECT) as a tool found dopamine levels in the brain quickly lowered in patients with RBD. SPECT A single-photon emission computerized tomography scan helps researchers analyze organ such as the brain in three dimensional images. The Imaging tool produces scans of how the blood flows to the brain. This visually shows what areas of the brain are more or less active.

Using the SPECT researchers were able to visually measure the amount of dopamine in the brain supporting the previous studies that dopamine levels are linked to Parkinson’s. The imaging measured the dopamine levels in the substantia nigra part of the brain that controls voluntary movement, produces neurotransmitter dopamine and regulates mood.

Dr. Àlex Iranzo, from the Neurology Service at the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, researcher at the Biomedical Research Institute of August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS) used SPECT to analyzed the levels of dopamine in two groups for three years: one group with REM disorder and another with normal REM sleep.

The results show that production of dopamine in the normal group decreased by 8 percent. The group with RBD had their dopamine levels decreased by 20 percent. During a follow-up of the study some of the RBD patients developed Parkinson’s disease.

With this new technique, scientists now have a useful tool to evaluate if drugs are effective against the progression of this devastating disease.

Authors of the study suggest that neuroprotective drug should significantly prevent the dopamine concentration from dropping in RBD patients to be considered effective.