Rem Sleep behavior Disorder (RBD).

Rem Sleep behavior Disorder (RBD).

Diagnosis, Smyptoms andTreatment

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder is very common amongst adults and there is a lot of myth surrounding this sleep disorder. Here are the facts that you should know.

REM Sleep, what is that about?

When you sleep, you go through sleep cycles or sleep phases.

The Sleep cycle can be divided into 2.

They are Non Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) and (REM) Rapid Eye Movement. The phrase rapid eye movement is used to describe the rapid movement of the eye when you are asleep.

Your body first starts with NREM Sleep and then proceeds to REM sleep. After this the cycle completes it continues again throughout the sleep period.

Since our focus in this write up is on REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, here is a brief overview of what happens during REM sleep.

When you sleep and your body is in REM state, your eyes begin to move rapidly, your blood pressure rises, your breathing is irregular and you seem almost paralyzed because of the loss of muscle tone. At this stage men will experience an erection.

This does not mean that your brain is not functional. In fact, research has shown that the human brain is as active during REM sleep as it is when you are awake. It is during this REM sleep period that you dream and it accounts for 20%-25% of the time you are asleep.


During REM sleep the body is kind off, “shot down” or “paralyzed” so that you cannot act out what is going in your head or dreams. This is for good reason.

People who have this disorder experience the exact opposite. The paralysis is not complete and this ultimately results in vivid, intense and violent behaviors during sleep, because the body is still active and tries to act out your dreams. Some of these actions include talking, yelling, punching, kicking, sitting, jumping from bed, arm flailing, and grabbing.

In some cases, bed mates have been severely injured!

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder can also occur with people who are trying to withdraw from addictions to alcohol or sedative and hypnotic drugs. If you are afflicted with sleep deprivation, brain stem tumors or stroke you may also experience RBD.

RBD is not and should not be confused with sleep walking or night terrors. With these other sleep disorders the sleeper is often confused or disorientated upon awakening but with RBD the sleeper is not confused and can be easily awakened and can also remember the details of his or her dream.

You should also know that this sleep disorder is more common with men and middle aged to elderly people. RBD is not a genetic disease.

Causes of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

The exact cause of this sleep disorder is unknown as at the time of this writing. So far, researchers only know that it occurs with some other neurological conditions such as Parkinson, multisystem atrophy, diffuse Lewy body dementia, and Shy-Drager syndrome.

In the cases of persons afflicted with any of the illnesses I stated above, RBD begins to appear as a symptom long before they are diagnosed with the neurological illness.

A recent study showed that 38 percent of patients diagnosed with RBD, later developed one or more of these illnesses I stated earlier. This usually occurs between a space of 12-13 years.

Please note that I am not saying that every person with RBD will eventually developed Parkinson Syndrome or any of the other illness I listed above.

There is just scientific evidence that RBD sometimes leads to Parkinson but like I also said, this only happens to about 38 percent of RBD patients.


REM Sleep Behavior Disorder Symptoms

The main symptoms of RBD are talking, yelling, punching, kicking, sitting, jumping from bed, arm flailing, and grabbing. These are all dream enacting actions.

Unlike sleep walking or some other sleep disorder when the person is awakened, he or she can vividly recall the dreams they were acting out.

How do you know you REM Sleep Behavior Disorder?

1. Do you ever kick, jump, punch, flail, shout, or leap out of bed while you are still asleep?

2. Has your bed partner noticed unusual behaviors when you sleep?

3. When your bedmate describes your actions to you, do they match the dream you were having before arousal?

4. Have any of these sleep activities resulted in an injury to you or your bed partner?

If your answer to the first question and any of the other questions is yes, then you probably have RBD.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder Treatment

You need to see a doctor, a sleep doctor. I do not counsel you self medicate.

In the meantime, you need to put away any object that can potentially harm you during an episode of RBD such as mirrors, night stands, lamps etc.

It also advisable that you move your bed away from the window.

You should also stay from alcohol hours before sleep.

Return From REM Sleep Behavior Disorder to Sleep Disorders Home.

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