REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder Management

This is a complex sleep disorder occurring during rapid eye movement (REM) where patients act out their dreams. It usually involves involuntary movement of limbs and vivid vocalization of events occurring in dreams. Patients upon waking are fully alert with no evidence of disorientation or confusion.

During the REM sleep phase, muscles are paralysed; the brain is still active with rapid eye movement. In this disorder, muscle paralysis is either absent or incomplete hence vivid activities can be performed by the patient while asleep. However, patients remember their dreams but are totally unaware of their movements or vocalization.


Causes of REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder

The exact cause of REM sleep behaviour disorder is not known. However, certain risk factors are attributed to the disorder e.g.

  1. Diseases of the brain and the spinal cord like Parkinson’s Disease, brain infection, degenerative brain disease and brain tumours play significant roles in REM sleep behaviour disorder
  2. Genetics- having a first degree relative with the disorder increases the likelihood of developing this disorder latter in life
  3. REM sleep behaviour disorder is associated with alcohol withdrawal
  4. Sudden withdrawal from drugs e.g. antidepressants can provoke episodes of the disorder
  5. Sleep deprivation, excessive alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking are known risk factors
  6. Stress and anxiety like emotional stress, stress at work, peer pressure and stress at school can precipitate episodes of the disorder

Medical treatment for REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder

Clonazepam has been used effectively in treating REM sleep behaviour disorder. Other drugs used in its treatment include Melatonin. Treating of the underlying cause like the use of levodopa in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease can also reduce episodes of the disease.

Alternative Treatment for REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder

  1. Special herbs like Valarien, St John’s wort, Lemon balm and Magnolia bark have been proven to have beneficial health effect by stimulating the release of neurotransmitters that controls sleep and wakefulness.
  2. Acupuncture- this wonderful therapy aids neurotransmitter secretion, improves quality of sleep and helps reduce anxiety and stress on the body.

Home remedies for REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder

  1. Having an understanding spouse or partner is of great benefit, injuries to self or to spouse have been noted in patients suffering from this disorder. Removing harmful objects from the bed, padding the side of the bed to avoid falling are important in reducing injuries associated with the disorder
  2. Reducing stress and anxiety reduces episodes of REM sleep behaviour disorder
  3. Dinner should be eaten at least 2 hours prior bed time. This helps in neural coordination leading to improved REM sleep
  4. Adequate exercise is necessary to maintain health, it is advisable to avoid strenuous physical activities shortly before bedtime

Diet solution for REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder

Sleep is a complex neurological process which is controlled by neurotransmitters produced by the brain. Vitamins, minerals and amino acids are needed for their synthesis and activation. It is importable to note that adequate diet can help reduce episodes of REM sleep behaviour disorder.

A healthy diet made up of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and complex carbohydrate provide the body with the necessary nutrients needed to tackle this disorder. A high fat and carbohydrate meal should be discouraged at night because they affect latency and depth of sleep thus precipitating REM sleep behaviour disorder

Vitamins and Minerals for REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder

  1. Tryptophan has a high concentration in whey derived protein and in bananas. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is a substrate in the synthesis of serotonin which controls sleep
  2. Melatonin is a neurotransmitter produced by the pineal gland of the brain. It regulates sleep-wake cycle and coordinates the phases of sleep. Individuals with melatonin deficiency experience episodes of REM sleep behaviour disorder. Raspberry, almonds, goji berries and sweet cherries are rich natural sources of melatonin
  3. Magnesium and calcium are important nutrients needed for muscular activities. There prevents involuntary movement of muscles.
  4. Vitamin B, C, E and K-neurodegenerative diseases are implicated as etiological causes of REM sleep behaviour disorder. These diseases arise as a result of immune mediated injury on the brain. These vitamins are potent antioxidants that neutralize toxins and free radicals that damage the brain. There also prevent growth of cancerous cells in the brain.
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