Rapid eye movement or REM defines the stages of sleep that occur. The body alternates between non-REM and REM throughout the night, while the majority of dreams occur during the REM stage of sleep. There are three stages of non-REM. The first stage of non-REM, which only lasts five to ten minutes, occurs shortly after falling asleep when a person can quickly wake up. The second stage of non-REM is when your body prepares for deep sleep by slowing the breathing pattern and lowering body temperature.
Deep sleep occurs in the third stage of non-REM. Unfortunately, there can be disruptions in REM sleep, which can lead to a behavioral disorder where a person acts out the dreams that occur in REM sleep. REM sleep behavior disorder can lead to possible injury and poor sleep habits for the person experiencing the sleep dysfunction and loved ones sleeping with the individual.
Symptoms and Risk Factors
Symptoms of REM sleep behavior disorder include kicking, hitting, jumping out of bed, screaming, or talking. If awakened during a vivid dream, it is common to recall the exact details. Risk factors include being a male, being over the age of 50, having a neurological disorder or other sleep disorder. As stated previously, this disorder can lead to injury to the person experiencing the dreams or those around them. It can also cause poor sleep quality, which can impact driving, work-life, and home-life.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you are experiencing these symptoms, schedule a visit with your primary care doctor. At the appointment, the doctor will complete a physical and neurological exam in addition to discussing symptoms, sleep history, and other chronic medical conditions. Sometimes your physician may recommend a sleep study to analyze your sleep behaviors. If diagnosed, your doctor may recommend melatonin or clonazepam to reduce symptoms. Clonazepam is an addictive and powerful medication, so long term usage is not recommended.
Lifestyle alterations are generally not effective in treating. REM sleep behavior disorder, which is why it is imperative to work closely with a physician to treat this disorder.