REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (REMD) is a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal dream interpretation and disruption of REM atonia in most patients.
It is a condition amongst the seniors whereby you act out a dream while you’re asleep, and it’s not a common health issue, just about one percent of the population or less.
REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is a crucial part of our natural sleep cycle, waking up refreshed and energetic to carry on with our activities of daily living.
Most people dream, but not everyone dreams while falling asleep.
Some dream but are unable to concentrate on the images or words of the dream as they become heavy and drowsy.
Others may only comprehend parts of the dream, but not understanding the meaning.
Causes of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder
There is no specific cause of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder.
However, this condition is often linked with prevailing health issues and certain lifestyles.
Studies have also shown that REM Sleep Behavior Disorder could be hereditary.
Having said that, neurological disorders are triggers of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder.
People who suffer from disorders like Parkinson’s disease or multiple system atrophy have the tendency to suffer from REM Sleep Behavior Disorder later.
This disease can also be triggered by stress, depression, and anxiety.
Other causes of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder are sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, Post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep apnea, sleepwalking or dream enactment, etc.
Other causes of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder are restless leg syndrome, age, the use of antidepressants and other drugs, withdrawal from drugs, etc.
Symptoms of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder
The following are some of the symptoms of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder.
- Restless sleep
- Poor memory recall
- Inability to concentrate
- Inability to recall recent events
- Frequent outbreaks
- Inability to concentrate on tasks
- Frequent anxiety
- Decreased sex drive
- Sleep lesions
- Inability to remember events from the past
The severity of each symptom can vary, with some patients only experiencing a few or none of them.
One of the symptoms that may point to a potential cause is the presence of an abnormal behavioral pattern, including the repetition of non-breaking behavioral patterns or sleepwalking.
Other things to watch out for are talking while sleeping, shouting, laughing moving arms and legs, or falling from the bed.
REM Sleep Behavior Disorder could also be an early sign of dementia and other memory-related issues.
REM sleep behavior disorder Diagnosis
Sleep physicians are the best people to diagnose the causes of rem sleep behavior disorder.
Sleep doctors usually include a polysomnogram or screening questionnaire to evaluate symptoms.
The polysomnogram may identify two or more discrete sleep stages that indicate different sleep behaviors.
The results of the polysomnogram may provide preliminary information, however, the results are normally not clear-cut due to a variety of factors such as variations in the depth of sleep, seasonal differences, and environmental noise.
Your doctor may decide to run a dream interpretation test, which involves asking a series of questions relating to your dreams and using this information to interpret your symptoms.
The dream interpretation tests are relatively accurate and useful as they can reveal the specific causes of your problems.
Some of these are behavioral, environmental, and neurogenic causes of sleep difficulties.
It’s possible to treat your rem sleep behavior disorder if it is caused by behavioral issues such as sleepwalking or dream enactment.
Sleep apnea is a common condition, which usually causes awakening during sleep, which can result in behavioral problems.
Treatment of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder
The treatment for this disorder relies largely on the severity of symptoms, but for sure, REM Sleep Behavior Disorder has a cure.
Treatment can be in the form of cognitive-behavioral therapy, alternative medicine, or prescription medication.
In severe cases, alternative therapies such as hypnotherapy may also be helpful.
The treatment of mild forms of REM sleep behavior disorder includes managing sleep hygiene such as reducing exposure to light and keeping temperature controlled, as these symptoms are often associated with obstructive sleep apnea.
Treatment in more severe cases includes neurodegenerative disorders and treatments that promote the regrowth of essential brainstem structures.
Medications that suppress neurogenic behavior such as Risperdal may be effective in reducing symptoms.
This drug can be habit-forming and addiction-forming and should therefore only be prescribed under the supervision of a medical practitioner.
This condition is often treated with CPAP machines. However, cognitive behavioral therapy can help patients control their areas and prevent future episodes.
Other treatment methods that may be considered include relaxation techniques, biofeedback, or hypnosis.
Your doctor will decide which treatment is the most suitable depending on your individual needs.
Deafness and tinnitus are common problems that may present themselves in patients with sleep-related disorders.
People who suffer from either of these conditions may find that their tinnitus or deafness causes them to struggle to get to sleep.
Other sleep-related conditions that may present themselves include restless leg syndrome and narcolepsy.
Restless leg syndrome causes sufferers to feel like they have ‘too much energy’ in their legs, whereas narcoleptics report an urge to move their limbs on a regular basis.
If you are suffering from one of these conditions, treatment may include drugs to control symptoms or surgery to correct the underlying problem.
If the cause of your rBD is not a sleep disorder, it may be an indication of other health problems such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, depression, or anxiety.
Your doctor should undertake a thorough physical exam, perform blood tests, and perform a full sleep study to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
Once your doctor is satisfied that you do not have a sleep-related condition, you may begin treatment.
Treatments for sleep disorders vary and your treatment will be determined by the type of rBD you are experiencing as well as the severity.
REM Sleep Behavior Disorder is a condition where you’re active physically while you sleep.
The common causes of this disorder have been discussed and how to prevent it.
When you notice the above-mentioned symptoms, you would consult your sleep physician on what to do.
Your doctor may prescribe over-the-counter drugs like Melatonin, Clonazepam to treat REM Sleep Behavior Disorder.