Disturbing Sleep Disorders That Will Keep You Up At Night (pt.5): REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

 For the most part, sleep disorders are personal problems. They are disturbing for many reasons but friends and family do not directly experience the horror that comes with sleep paralysis or night terrors. Instead, those that are close to someone with a sleep disorder sometimes suffer indirectly. A child’s night terrors will frighten an adult and may make sleeping through the night difficult. A person with sleep apnea may snore so loud that their significant other loses sleep. REM Sleep Behavior Disorder is different. Not only can it affect someone who doesn’t have it, but, according to some legal cases, can kill them. 

Acting Out

REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is a title that covers many different types disorders in which a person acts out their dreams. While we sleep, our bodies experience sleep atonia. Atonia is a loss of muscle tone experienced during sleep due to a chemical our brains secrete during sleep. This temporary paralysis inhibits us from acting out our dreams. However, the mind is a complex thing and sometimes things don’t act the way they should. RBD is caused by the lack of sleep atonia. This allows us to act out our dreams during the REM stage of sleep. Sleep atonia may also be a contributing factor for sleep paralysisImage result for acting out dreams

If a person is experiencing RBD, they may exhibit some unusual signs. Some people talk in their sleep while others may show sexual activities. This has been dubbed Sexsomnia by the National Sleep Foundation. A person may also do other things like urinate in odd places, prepare a meal, or drive a car. But, some behaviors can be violent. Reports have shown that in some episodes, an individual may flail their arms and legs or punch or kick someone next to them. RBD has also been used as a legal defense in murder cases. These cases are very rare and some have been found out to be fabrications by the perpetrator.

RBD vs. Sleep Walking

RBD is often confused with sleep walking but the two are very different. As stated before RBD occurs during a REM cycle of sleep. In this cycle, a person can be easily aroused awakeImage result for sleep walking painting and will probably remember the dream they were having. Sleepwalking, on the other hand, occurs during a cycle of NREM sleep. A person in this stage of sleep will be difficult to wake up and will have no recollection of any dreams they may have been having. 

Who Experiences REM Sleep Behavior Disorder?

Like many parasomnias, RBD can be the symptom of other sleep problems such as:

  • Sleep Apnea
  • Sleep Deprivation
  • Poor sleeping habits
  • Insomnia
  • Stress and anxiety

RBD may also be linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and Lewy Body dementia.

The demographic that experiences RBD the most is men over 50. This may be due to the decreased periods of sleep atonia that is experienced with general aging.

Treatments

Aside from extreme cases and bizarre behaviors, a person experiencing RBD is relatively safe and harmless. If, however, an individual starts wondering away throughout the night or becoming violent there are things that can help. 

Some people install door alarms on their houses to wake the person up if they happen to try to go outside. Some will tie an arm or a leg to the bed to prevent them from wondering off. Another thing to protect someone with RBD is to make sure weapons or objects that can be used as weapons are locked up or out of the bedroom. A doctor may also be able to prescribe medications so help with RBD.

Learn More:

Learn how to design/pick your schedule, choosing the type of sleep that is right for you. In Polyphasic Sleep Mastery eBook we, go over all the schedules and also help you create a custom Polyphasic Sleep schedule that suits your needs. You will get steps and strategies to adapting to various Polyphasic Sleep schedules. It contains everything you need know about getting started with Polyphasic Sleep - even if you currently know absolutely nothing.

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