There are three Stages of Sleep:

  • Wakefulness;
  • Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (REM) – dreaming;
  • Non-Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (N-REM)

During REM Sleep your brain activity is similar to the brain activity you have when you are awake but your muscles are in a temporary paralysis state.  If you have REM Sleep Behavior Disorder you lack this muscle paralysis so your body is active and can be violent when you are in the REM Sleep stage and dreaming.

Symptoms of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder:

  • Acting out dreams
  • Physically move limbs, twitching, jerking
  • Talking, shouting, screaming while sleeping
  • Hitting or punching
  • Sleep walking
  • Can be a danger to themselves or others


  • Medication Clonazepam works about 90% of the time.
  • Antidepressants
  • Supplemental melatonin
  • It is a good idea to make the bedroom a safe place, free from breakable objects or anything that could harm someone while sleep walking.

There seems to be an association between those with REM Sleep Behavior Disorder and Parkinson’s Disease.  40% of individuals who have RBD will go on to develop Parkinson’s Disease.  It is recommended that if you have RBD you get regular evaluations for Parkinson’s so that it can be treated at the onset.

The first series of cases of REM sleep behavior disorder was described in 1985 by Mark Mahowald, MD, and Carlos Schenck, MD, of the University of Minnesota.

Key Points

  • 1The science of sleep is relatively new but the importance of sleep is becoming more apparent to good health all the time.
  • 2Animals with brain stem lesions exhibit symptoms similar to RBD.
  • 3To be properly diagnoses you should have an overnight sleep study done to eliminate all other causes of your sleep issues.


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