What You Need to Know About REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

Each time you are dreaming, your mind springs into action. However, your body remains still throughout the duration of the dream.

Well, there’s a sleep disorder that enables individuals who are dreaming to act out their dreams, which means that they are able to stand up, walk, run, punch, talk, scream or even curse while they’re dreaming.

Such is what’s referred to as REM sleep behavior disorder. This article will talk about some of the most important matters you need to know about it, such as its causes, signs, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.


No one really knows the exact causes REM sleep behavior disorder to happen exactly. Sometimes it is associated with the intake of certain medications, while other times it is believed to be a part of drug or alcohol withdrawal.

REM sleep behavior disorder, just like what the name says, occurs during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, a phase in which people who are asleep have dreams.

Some people are at higher risk of having REM sleep behavior disorder. They include:

  • Males
  • Those who are 50 years old and above
  • People taking certain antidepressants, particularly newer ones
  • Those with other sleep disorders
  • Individuals with neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease

Signs and Symptoms

During REM sleep where dreams come into being, our muscles are paralyzed temporarily. This is to keep us from acting out whatever we are dreaming about.

The muscles of people who are suffering from REM sleep behavior disorder, however, are not paralyzed for the time being as they should be, thus enabling the individuals to act out their dreams physically and verbally.

Some of the signs and symptoms of REM sleep behavior disorder are:

  • Physical movements such as kicking, punching, jumping out of bed, and walking
  • Noises such as talking, screaming, laughing and even cursing

Because of the fact that people with REM sleep behavior disorder are able to act out their dreams, there’s always a risk for them becoming injured. In addition, those with the sleep disorder may also injure the people they share the bed with or whomever they encounter along the way.

By the way, those with the sleep disorder are able to recall their dreams. However, they have no idea that they were acting them out, too.


In order to diagnose REM sleep behavior disorder, doctors will conduct physical and neurological exams. Such is done in order to identify the presence of REM sleep behavior disorder as well as other sleep disorders.

REM sleep behavior disorder may co-exist with other sleep disorders like narcolepsy and sleep apnea. In some instances, it’s a stand-alone disorder with symptoms similar to other sleep disorders.

It’s very much likely for a sleep study test to be requested. In here, individuals who are suspected to have REM sleep behavior disorder are asked to sleep at special facilities where they can be monitored by sleep specialists.


It is very important to have REM sleep behavior disorder treated accordingly as it can put the sufferers as well as others around them at risk of getting injured sooner or later.

The problem with REM sleep behavior disorder is the dreams involved tend to be more and more vivid and violent as time passes by, thus causing the acting out of the dreams to be more aggressive and thus highly injurious.

Experts say that up to 90 percent of all REM sleep behavior disorder cases can be treated with low doses of a benzodiazepine (a tranquilizing drug) called clonazepam. The said drug works as it is capable of suppressing muscular activity during REM sleep.

Just in case clonazepam fails, certain types of antidepressants may be prescribed by doctors. There are instances, too, in which individuals with REM sleep behavior disorder are asked to take melatonin, a very popular supplement among those who are suffering from insomnia.

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