The exact cause of REM behavior disorder is unknown. It is often associated with degenerative neurological conditions like multisystem atrophy, Parkinson’s disease, Lewey body dementia, and Shy-Drager syndrome. In some cases, it is associated with alcohol or sedative-hypnotic withdrawal, serotonin reuptake inhibitor use, or antidepressant use.
Symptoms of REM Disorders
Persons with REM behavior disorder have repeated episodes where they may kick, punch, flail the arms, or jump from the bed as a response to violent or high-intensity dreams. They may become very vocal, making noises, talking, laughing, shouting, or having emotional outbursts. When they are awakened during the episode, they are alert and able to recall the dream. Safety is the main concern with potential injury to both the patient and bed partner.
Diagnosis of REM Disorders
Initial steps to diagnose REM behavior disorder include medical and sleep histories as well as a physical and neurological exam. Dr. Nassar and Dr. Festic may also use the results from in-depth overnight sleep testing at Jacksonville Sleep Center to aid in making a diagnosis. Overnight sleep testing involves a polysomnogram to monitor brain, heart, and lung activity as well as arm and leg movements, blood oxygen levels, and breathing patterns. A videotape of behavior during REM sleep will be made. Evaluation for REM behavior disorder will also detect any other possible causes of your symptoms.