Abnormal Sleep Behavior

What is it?

Adults or children with parasomnias (abnormal sleep behaviors) or REM Behavior Disorder (RBD) tend to speak, shout and move vigorously or violently during sleep. These episodes of abnormal movements may result in injury to the patient or a bed partner. Parasomnias also include but are not limited to ”sleep terrors” in children, nightmares, sleep walking, sleep talking and various repetitive movements during sleep.

Risks and symptoms

The diagnosis of RBD is sometimes very apparent based on the patient’s history. In other cases, it is difficult to distinguish the symptoms from those of sleepwalking, sleep talking, seizures or sleep terrors. It is helpful to do an overnight sleep recording, known as a polysomnogram (PSG). The Polysomnogram may record an episode of REM sleep behavior disorder by recording one or more awakenings.

The main symptom of REM sleep behavior disorder is dream-enacting behaviors, sometimes violent, causing self-injury or injury to the bed partner. The dream-enacting behaviors are usually non-directed and may include punching, kicking, leaping, or jumping from bed while still asleep. The person may be awakened or may wake spontaneously during the attack and vividly recall the dream that corresponds to the physical activity.