Sleep talking in the elderly with suspected dementia is different from general sleep talking… Root cause treatment is required once the cause has been identified

[이데일리 이순용 기자] A 72-year-old woman always sleeps alone because of her excessive lethargy. Originally, I slept with my spouse, but every night I had to use every room, falling out of bed due to violent movements, or even punching my spouse. In the end, he went to a sleep clinic, had a polysomnography test, and was diagnosed with ‘risky dream talking’, not ‘normal sleep talking’. Frightened, Mr. Lee immediately began treatment for drooling, and as a result of continuous treatment for more than 6 months, the number of drool talkers decreased significantly.

Sleep talking can be a warning sign of dementia, so it has been argued that if sleep talking continues to appear more than once a week, it is desirable to have it checked. Researchers at McGill University in Canada conducted a study on people suffering from sleep behavior disorder for 12 years and announced that more than 50% of them developed degenerative neurological diseases such as dementia or Parkinson’s disease.

Regarding this, Han Jin-gyu, director of the Seoul Sleep Center, said, “Originally, during REM sleep, the motor paralysis control part in the brainstem is activated and it is normal to sleep without movement. REM sleep behavior disorder, which causes lethargy or severe movement during sleep, appears as normal motor paralysis function declines,” he emphasized.

In the case of general drool talking, it is common in children and young people, occurs within 3 hours of sleep, and is characterized by only talking and little action. On the other hand, in the case of lethargy, which is at risk of dementia or Parkinson’s disease, it usually occurs around 3 to 5 am in the elderly, and behaviors such as loud swearing and waving of hands and feet are extreme. In addition, the frequency of sleep talking in general is low, but the frequency of sleep talking in dementia is high, more than once a week.

In particular, if you have cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or hyperlipidemia, or if you have snoring or sleep apnea, you should be more careful because the cause of sleep talking can be a breathing problem during sleep. This is because when apnea occurs during sleep, the brain and heart cannot rest, making it easy to be susceptible to cerebrovascular or cardiovascular diseases. At this time, symptoms of lethargy will accompany. According to the American Sleep Association, if left unattended, the risk of developing cerebrovascular diseases such as stroke, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease increases 3.3 times, and the risk of high blood pressure, sleepiness during the day, and cardiovascular disease increases greatly.

A polysomnogram is needed to determine the exact cause of drowsiness. This is a test that monitors various vital signs such as brain waves, breathing, oxygen saturation, leg movements, and an electrocardiogram while sleeping. Even if you don’t talk in your sleep, if you suspect abnormal symptoms such as snoring or bruxism during sleep, or if you feel that the quality of your sleep has worsened, it’s n useful to check your health with polysomnography, just like a medical examination.

Currently, health insurance coverage is available for sleep talking, sleep apnea-related polysomnography and positive airway pressure treatment. It is useful to check and test if it is used through previous medical treatment.


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