What is the definition of REM Behavior Disorder?
Rapid eye movement (REM) behavior disorder, also known as dream-enacting behavior, is a rare sleep disorder, or parasomnia, which involves acting out vivid, bad dreams during REM sleep by making verbal sounds along with often violent limb movements. REM behavior disorder can be associated with other neurological conditions, such as Lewy body dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or multiple system atrophy, and can occur with other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, periodic limb movement disorder, and narcolepsy, and usually occurs in men over the age of 50. REM behavior disorder may worsen over time. REM behavior disorder may also be related to other conditions, such as sleep deprivation, certain medications, alcohol withdrawal, brainstem tumors, and stroke.
What are the symptoms for REM Behavior Disorder?
Symptoms of REM behavior disorder are characterized by physically acting out dreams, such as arm flailing, punching, kicking, or jumping from bed; noises, such as emotional outcries, talking, laughing, shouting, cursing; and being able to vividly recall a dream if awakened. Symptoms of REM behavior disorder may worsen over time and may cause injury to the individual or bed partner.
What are the current treatments for REM Behavior Disorder?
Treatment for REM behavior disorder is focused on medication and providing a safe sleep environment. Medications for REM behavior disorder include the supplement, melatonin, and clonazepam (Klonopin). Safeguards to prevent injury from REM behavior disorder include floor padding, removing sharp items and weapons from the bedroom, barriers on the sides of bed, moving furniture, protecting and/or blocking windows, sleeping separately from a partner. Individuals with REM behavior disorder should avoid sleep deprivation with a regular sleeping schedule, avoid daytime sleepiness, alcohol, and some medications, treat any associated sleep disorders, and have regular evaluations for any neurological symptoms, such as tremor, that may indicate the onset of Parkinson's disease or other neurological disorders.