Sleep Education

American Academy of Sleep Medicine 

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REM Sleep Behavior Disorder – Symptoms & Risk Factors


Someone with RBD may:
  • Kick, jump, punch, flail, shout, or leap out of bed while they are still asleep
  • Have a bed partner that expresses concern about their unusual behaviors while sleeping
  • Perform actions that match vivid dreams that they clearly recall
  • Have sleep activities that result in an injury to them or their bed partner

Risk Factors

RBD most often occurs in men. It can appear at any age. But it most often emerges after men are 50 years old. It is uncommon in women and children. Less than one percent of people have it. It appears more often in the elderly. RBD is also seen more often in people with some neurologic disorders. It occurs at a higher rate in people who have one of the following conditions:
  • Parkinson’s disease (33%)
  • Multiple system atrophy (90%)
People found to have RBD may develop Parkinson’s disease many years later. Those with RBD should watch for symptoms of Parkinson’s such as tremor.
People with RBD are at higher risk for the following sleep disorders:
  • Narcolepsy
  • Periodic limb movement disorder
  • Sleep apnea
RBD can also be related to other factors that increase the intensity of REM sleep. These include the following:
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Brainstem brain tumors
  • Stroke
  • Use of certain medications
Episodes of RBD may increase due to the following:
  • Sleep or REM sleep deprivation
  • Other sleep disorders
  • Alcohol
  • Some medications
A genetic link for RBD has not yet been identified.
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