This troubling sleep disorder is a condition called REM behavior disorder. This disorder causes the sleepers to physically act out their dreams by kicking, screaming and even falling out of bed. Unfortunately, this disorder is usually not noticed until it causes an injury either to themselves or others.
Dr. Nabeela Nasir, MD, sleep specialist, assistant professor of neurology at Loyola University Medical Center, would like to raise awareness of this disorder because those who endure this condition can be treated successfully with medications.
“I don’t think we have a clear idea how prevalent it is.” “Patients don’t report it, and doctors don’t ask about it,” says Dr. Nasir in a news release.
Sleep involves transitions between three different states; wakefulness, REM sleep (rapid eye movement associated to dreaming) and N-REM sleep (non-rapid eye movement).
Normally muscles do not move during REM but this temporary paralysis does not occur in patients with REM behavior disorder. The patients will physically act out their vivid dreams they are having, for example, running, fighting and warding off attackers. REM behavior disorder belongs to a class of sleep disorders called parasomnias, which include the sleep disorders of sleep walking and sleep related eating disorder (person eats while asleep).
This disorder affects an estimated one in every 200 adults with nine out of ten men suffering from this disorder with the vast majority being over 50 years. Many patients eventually develop Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Mayo Clinic researchers found that people with REM sleep behavior disorder have twice the risk for developing mild cognitive impairment or Parkinson’s disease. Their study appeared online January 12, 2012 in Annals of Neurology. Many patients are treated with Clonazepam, which is in a class of medicines called benzodiazepines, which curtails or eliminates the disorder 90% of the time. Melatonin a hormone that regulates sleep and wake cycles is used for insomnia and being looked at for as a treatment for REM behavior disorder. Dr. Nasir recommends to safe-proofing the bedroom such as clear the room of furniture and objects that could cause injury and sleep alone if necessary. The main symptom of REM sleep behavior disorder is dream-enacting behaviors. At times they can be violent causing self-injury or injury to the bed partner. These behaviors can include punching or jumping out of bed while still asleep. Other actions of REM behavior disorder include; kicking, grabbing and sitting up in bed.
If any of these behaviors occur during sleep seek medical attention.
Nightmares are disturbing dreams associated with negative feelings, such as anxiety or fear. Nightmares are common. They may begin in childhood and tend to decrease after about age 10. However, some people have them as teens or adults, or throughout their lives.
Until age 13, boys and girls have nightmares in equal numbers. At age 13, nightmares become more prevalent in girls than boys. Nightmares seem real, often becoming more disturbing as the dream unfolds. But nightmares usually are nothing to worry about. They may become a problem if you have them frequently and they cause you to fear going to sleep or keep you from sleeping well. Nightmares are referred to by doctors as parasomnias — undesirable experiences that occur during sleep, usually during the stage of sleep known as rapid eye movement (REM). You’ve had a nightmare if: -Your dream wakes you -You feel scared, anxious, angry, sad or disgusted as a result of your dream -You can think clearly upon awakening, and can recall details of your dream -Your dream occurs near the end of your sleep time -Your dream keeps you from falling back to sleep easily
Children’s nightmare content varies with age, typically becoming more complex. While a young child might dream of monsters, an older child might have nightmares about school or difficulties at home.
Sudden unexpected death syndrome, or Sudden unexpected nocturnal death syndrome (SUNDS), or Sudden Unknown Death Syndrome, or Sudden Adult Death Syndrome is sudden unexpected death of adolescents and adults, often during sleep.
Sudden unexplained death syndrome was first noted in 1977 among Hmong refugees in the US.The disease was again noted in Singapore, when a retrospective survey of records showed that 230 otherwise healthy Thai men died suddenly of unexplained causes between 1982 and 1990: In the Philippines, where it is referred to in the vernacular as bangungot, SUNDS affects 43 per 100,000 per year among young Filipinos. Most of the victims are young males.
SUNDS has been cloaked in superstition. Many Filipinos believe ingesting high levels of carbohydrates just before sleeping causes bangungot.
It has only been recently that the scientific world has begun to understand this syndrome. Victims of bangungot have not been found to have any organic heart diseases or structural heart problems.
However, cardiac activity during SUNDS episodes indicates irregular heart rhythms and ventricular fibrillation. The victim survives this episode if the heart’s rhythm goes back to normal. Older Filipinos recommend wiggling the big toe of people experiencing this to encourage their heart to snap back to normal.
Also called “night terrors”, these episodes are characterized by extreme terror and a temporary inability to attain full consciousness. The person may abruptly exhibit behaviors of fear, panic, confusion, or an apparent desire to escape. There is no response to soothing from others. They may experience gasping, moaning or screaming. However, the person is not fully awake, and once the episode passes, often returns to normal sleep without ever fully waking up. In most cases, there is no recollection of the episode in the morning.
Like sleepwalking, night terror episodes usually occur during NREM delta (slow wave) sleep. They are most likely to occur during the first part of the night. The timing of the events helps differentiate the episodes from nightmares, which occur during the last third of the sleep period.
While sleep terrors are more common in children, they can occur at any age. Research has shown that a predisposition to night terrors may be hereditary. Emotional stress during the day, fatigue or an irregular routine are thought to trigger episodes. Ensuring a child has the proper amount of sleep, as well as addressing any daytime stresses, will help reduce terrors.
A Harvard study suggested that dreaming may reactivate and reorganize recently learned material, improving memory and boosting performance. The subjects were 99 healthy college students who agreed to avoid alcohol, caffeine, and drugs for at least 24 hours prior to the experiment. All the volunteers demonstrated normal sleep patterns before enrolling in the study.
Each of the subjects spent an hour learning how to navigate through a complex three-dimensional maze-like puzzle. After the training period, half of the students were allowed to nap for 90 minutes, while the others read or relaxed. Following a lunch break, all the volunteers tackled the virtual maze again. The only students whose performance substantially improved were the few who dreamed about the maze during their naps. Although the dreams didn’t actually depict solutions to the puzzle, the researchers believe they show how the dreaming brain can reorganize and consolidate memories, resulting in better performance on learned tasks. And all the amazing dreams occurred early in NREM sleep.
The signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas overlap, sometimes making the type of sleep apnea more difficult to determine. The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas include: -Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia) -Loud snoring, which is usually more prominent in obstructive sleep apnea -Episodes of breathing cessation during sleep witnessed by another person
–Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath, which more likely indicates central sleep apnea
–Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat -Morning headache -Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia) -Attention problems -When to see a doctor. Consult a medical professional if you experience, or if your partner notices, the following: -Snoring loud enough to disturb the sleep of others or yourself -Shortness of breath that awakens you from sleep -Intermittent pauses in your breathing during sleep -Excessive daytime drowsiness, which may cause you to fall asleep while you’re working, watching television or even driving.
There are many things you can do on your own to help stop snoring. Home remedies and lifestyle changes can go a long way in resolving the problem.
Lifestyle changes to stop snoring Lose weight. Losing even a little bit of weight can reduce fatty tissue in the back of the throat and decrease or even stop snoring. Exercise can also help to stop snoring. Working out to tone your arms, legs, and abs, for example, also leads to toning the muscles in your throat, which in turn can lead to less snoring. Quit smoking. If you smoke, your chances of snoring are high. Smoking causes airways to be blocked by irritating the membranes in the nose and throat. Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills, and sedatives, especially before bedtime, because they relax the muscles in the throat and interfere with breathing. Talk to your doctor about any prescription medications you’re taking, as some encourage a deeper level of sleep which can make snoring worse. Establish regular sleep patterns. Create a bedtime ritual with your partner and stick to it. Hitting the sack in a routine way together can help you sleep better and often minimize snoring.
Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, and not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. So how do you tell the difference between normal snoring and a more serious case of sleep apnea?
The biggest telltale sign is how you feel during the day. Normal snoring doesn’t interfere with the quality of your sleep as much as sleep apnea does, so you’re less likely to suffer from extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day. Even if you don’t have sleep apnea, a snoring problem can get in the way of your bed partner’s rest and affect your own sleep quality and health. But there are plenty of tips and treatments that can help.
The following strategies can help you decipher the symptoms: Keep a sleep diary – Record how many hours you’re spending in bed, any nighttime awakenings, and whether you feel refreshed in the morning. Ask your sleep partner to keep track of your snoring, including how loud and frequent it is. Also ask him or her to note any gasping, choking, or other unusual sounds. Record yourself sleeping – Taking a video or audio recording of yourself while you sleep can be very informative and revealing. You can use a sound-activated audio recorder, a video camera, or software that turns your computer into a recorder.
During our waking hours, the body burns oxygen and food to provide energy. This is known as a catabolic state, in which more energy is spent than conserved, using up the body’s resources. This state is dominated by the work of stimulating hormones such as adrenaline and natural cortisteroids. However, when we sleep we move into an anabolic state – in which energy conservation, repair and growth take over. Levels of adrenaline and corticosteroids drop and the body starts to produce human growth hormone (HGH).
A protein hormone, HGH promotes the growth, maintenance and repair of muscles and bones by facilitating the use of amino acids (the essential building blocks of protein). Every tissue in the body is renewed faster during sleep than at any time when awake. Melatonin is another hormone produced to help us sleep. Secreted by the pineal gland deep in the brain, it helps control body rhythms and sleep-wake cycles.Levels of melatonin rise as the body temperature falls, to encourage feelings of sleepiness. The opposite occurs to wake us up. It is mostly during sleep that the sex hormone testosterone and the fertility hormones, follicle-stimulating hormone and leuteinising hormone, are secreted.
Sleep makes you feel better, but its importance goes way beyond just boosting your mood or banishing under-eye circles. Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more.
Your mind is surprisingly busy while you snooze. During sleep you can strengthen memories or “practice” skills learned while you were awake (it’s a process called consolidation).
“If you are trying to learn something, whether it’s physical or mental, you learn it to a certain point with practice,” says Dr. Rapoport, who is an associate professor at NYU Langone Medical Center. “But something happens while you sleep that makes you learn it better.”
In other words if you’re trying to learn something new—whether it’s Spanish or a new tennis swing—you’ll perform better after sleeping. Too much or too little sleep is associated with a shorter lifespan—although it’s not clear if it’s a cause or effect. (Illnesses may affect sleep patterns too.)
In a 2010 study of women ages 50 to 79, more deaths occurred in women who got less than five hours or more than six and a half hours of sleep per night. Sleep also affects quality of life.
“Many things that we take for granted are affected by sleep,” says Raymonde Jean, MD, director of sleep medicine and associate director of critical care at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City. “If you sleep better, you can certainly live better. It’s pretty clear.”