Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Living a Nightmare: True Stories of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

Alarming behavior during sleep is more than just a plot device for movies. It’s a nightly reality for people who suffer from REM sleep behavior disorder.

People with RBD act out vivid, action-packed dreams while remaining asleep. They may shout, punch, kick, run and even jump out a window.

The dangerous sleep disorder can put dreamers and their bed partners at risk of injury. Yesterday The Chicago Tribune
shared some of their stories.

For 16 years Lawrence Neumann screamed, punched and kicked in his sleep before he was finally diagnosed with RBD. One time he even suffered a concussion when he dove out of bed head first.

Carl Pope’s wife described how she watched him kick the wall and fight off imaginary attackers. John Chadwick had to restrain himself in bed so that he wouldn’t injure his wife.

"I was living a nightmare," Chadwick told the Tribune.

AASM member Dr. Carlos Schenck described some of the people he has helped. Some men have jumped through windows while asleep. Others have knocked themselves unconscious while acting out violent and aggressive dreams.

Schenck was one of the authors who first
reported cases of RBD in the journal Sleep in 1986. He also is executive producer of the documentary “Sleep Runners.” It tells the true stories of people who suffer from RBD and other parasomnias.

Recently the AASM
published a best practice guide for the treatment of RBD. Injury prevention and treatment with medication can help subdue RBD.

Last year the Sleep Education blog
reported that RBD may intensity over time. The disorder is most common in men over the age of 50. But another study confirmed that it can occur in other people as well.

Contact an
AASM-accredited sleep center if you or someone you know acts out dreams during sleep. Read more about REM sleep behavior disorder.

Image by Balazs Sprenc

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