REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

What is REM Sleep Behavior Disorder?

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD) is a rare condition that causes people to act out their dreams during the REM period of their sleep cycle. Whereas people with normal sleep cycles enter a state of temporary paralysis during the REM stage of sleep — which protects them from injuring themselves and their bed partners while dreaming — people with REM Sleep Behavior Disorder have vivid dreams that can cause them to shout, hit, kick, flail their arms, punch, sleepwalk, run, leap out of bed or engage in other behaviors that can injure themselves or their bed partners. Less than one percent of the population suffers from REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, according to the National Sleep Foundation. (1) Fortunately, this is a condition that can be treated with medication.

What Causes REM Sleep Behavior Disorder?

During normal sleep cycles, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep occurs every 90 minutes to 2 hours while sleeping. During the REM stage of sleep, the brain releases a chemical that prevents a person from moving while they are actively dreaming. In people with RBD, the brain does not release the biochemical that prevents them from moving while dreaming.

Who Is at Risk of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, REM Sleep Behavior Disorder occurs more frequently in men than in women. People over the age of 50 are more likely to develop the disorder, alt-hough it can occur at any age. People with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease are more susceptible to RBD.

How is RBD Diagnosed?

RBD is typically diagnosed through a neurological consultation where a complete history of your symptoms is taken followed by an overnight sleep study in a sleep laboratory where your sleep stages, heart rate, brain wave, and breathing will be monitored.

Treatments for REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

In most cases, RBD can be successfully managed with medication. Clonazepam (Klonopin) is the most frequently used medicine. Melatonin can also alleviate or eliminate RBD symptoms. Your sleep doctor will determine which treatment and medication is best for you.

Where to Find a Good REM Sleep Disorder Doctor

The sleep experts at Comprehensive Neurology and Medicine have more than 30 years experience diagnosing and successfully treating thousands of patients throughout Maryland for REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD), Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), insomnia, and other common sleep disorders. Dr. Konrad Bakker is board certified in sleep medicine by the American Board of Sleep Medicine as well as board certified in sleep by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Sarah E. Jamieson is a physician’s assistant with specialized training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of RBD and other sleep disorders. Together, Dr. Bakker and Ms. Jamieson will listen to you carefully and develop a personalized treatment plan to help you overcome RBD so that you can get the healthy peaceful sleep you need so you can enjoy a better quality of life. Call us today at (301) 694-0900 to schedule an appointment. Virtual appointments are also available, allowing you to receive an RLS consultation via our own phone or computer in the comfort of your home.

Information about Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)