What Is REM Behavior Disorder Caused By?
Are you or someone you know having REM behavior disorder? This can be life-threatening so don’t ignore it. To learn more information call our team today at Koala® Centers For Sleep & TMJ Disorders or visit us online to book an appointment. We have convenient locations across the U.S. in Bloomington IL, Peoria/Dunlap IL, Mishawaka IN, Kansas City MO, El Paso TX and Wausau WI.
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REM behavior disorder, also known as dream-enacting behavior, is a chronic disorder of the nervous system that is characterized by episodes of abnormal behavior during the rapid eye movement phase of sleep. Most people with REM behavior disorder experience vivid and elaborate dreams, which causes them to act out these actions while sleeping. This can endanger a person’s life if it causes them to leave the house, walk down stairs, or drive their vehicle. REM behavior disorder is a common sleep disorder that can affect any one of any age.
During sleep, the body goes through stages of both non-REM and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. REM sleep is associated with dreams and is a critical component of the sleep cycle; it occurs for roughly 90 minutes to two hours each night. During typical REM sleep, the muscles are temporarily paralyzed while the brain is actively dreaming. In some cases, the chemical that causes the body to remain still and the brain to remain active does not function properly; as a result, certain sleep disorders can develop, such as sleepwalking, narcolepsy or RBD. In RBD, muscles are not temporarily paralyzed like they should be, which allows the person to react to their dreams.
REM sleep behavior disorder is a condition in which people act out dreams. Some people believe that REM sleep behavior disorder is a form of mental illness, but research suggests that it is a unique type of sleep disorder, linked to specific patterns of brain activity. While a mental illness may occur alongside REM sleep behavior disorder, there is no obvious correlation between mental illnesses and this sleep disorder.
Normally, the body is paralyzed when dreams occur, during REM sleep. In certain conditions, the chemical that paralyzes the muscles does not work properly, causing a person to act out their dreams without knowledge of doing so. RBD can precede the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease by many years; the vast majority of people in RBD studies will develop Parkinson’s disease or any condition that causes a combination of movement abnormalities such as tremors, impaired speech, and muscle stiffness, or slow movement. In a study of 174 patients with RBD, 33 percent had a neurodegenerative condition after five years; 76 percent after 10 years; and 91 percent after 14 years.
In some cases, REM sleep disorder may be curable, however, the current treatment of RBD is typically injury prevention, talk therapy, or medication. In certain situations, noninvasive or alternative therapies may be utilized, although this largely depends on the cause of the condition and its severity. Modifications to the sleep environment are the first-line treatment for RBD, which may include:
– Placing the mattress on the floor
– Using a sleeping bag
– Moving furniture away from the bed
– Adding soft padding to corners of furniture
– Securing and blocking windows
– Removing weapons and sharp objects from the bedroom
These methods of injury prevention are not a treatment, but a safety measure to protect physical trauma from occurring. This is typically performed alongside other treatments, which will be discussed with the RBD specialist.
If you or someone you love is living with REM behavior disorder, the dedicated team at Koala® Centers For Sleep & TMJ Disorders can help you get a good night’s rest. Call us today to book an appointment and learn more so you get the guidance you may need. We serve patients from all across the United States and have clinics in Bloomington IL, Peoria – Dunlap IL, Mishawaka IN, Kansas City MO, El Paso TX and Wausau WI. We look forward to serving you!