REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

When we sleep, we are prevented from acting out our dreams due to our body’s protective mechanisms that occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. During the REM phase of our sleep cycle, our breathing changes, our eyes move more rapidly, and, perhaps most importantly, our bodies become paralyzed so we do not attempt to mimic the dreams that more heavily occur during this period of higher brain activity. Those with REM sleep behavior disorder have lessened or nonexistent paralysis mechanisms and act out their dreams, particularly those that involve rapid body movement such as punching, kicking, jumping and yelling. This condition is most commonly found in middle-to-senior-citizen-aged individuals, although the precise cause of this order is unknown and may be related to Parkinson’s disease or other conditions.

REM Sleep Behavior disorder is often treated with medications such as Clonazepam as well as making environmental changes, such as removing unsafe objects (night stands, lamps, etc.) from the person’s sleeping area and placing a large object in front of the person’s window. Patients are also often encouraged to adhere to a regular bedtime, continue current treatments and monitoring for other sleep and neurological issues, and avoid medications and alcohol that can trigger the disorder.