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What is REM Sleep Behavior Disorder?


Imagine you’re having an intense dream. You’re fighting with someone, throwing punches, yelling and screaming at the top of your lungs. You see an opening and run from the fight, but suddenly, something doesn’t feel right. There’s no fight. You recognize your bed room, your things are strewn everywhere, and your spouse is wide awake, wondering what happened. This is Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep Behavior Disorder.

People with this disorder react verbally and physically to their dreams. Normally, our brains block muscles from moving during dreams, but that mechanism breaks down in this disorder. This leads to injuries, both for the individuals and their bed partners.

The condition can come on suddenly or gradually and occurs mostly in people over the age of 50. It’s relatively rare, appearing in less than 0.5% of the population. When it does happen, though, it can be a very early predictor of neurological conditions like Parkinson’s Disease. REM Sleep Behavior Disorder often appears in younger people who also have Narcolepsy. People who develop this sleep disturbance should be tested for these other disorders.

Types of Sleep-Wake Disorders

Wondering about a possible disorder but not sure? Let’s explore your symptoms.

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