Rem Sleep

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REM Sleep Introduction

During REM sleep, the body’s muscles are temporarily paralyzed for a brief period as the brain is active and dreaming. This allows us to dream softly and securely throughout the night. Individuals with REM sleep behavior disorder do not experience paralysis during REM sleep. Instead, their bodies and voices act out their dreams while remaining unconscious.

REM sleep behavior disorder affects only one percent of the population. It is most common after age 50, and it’s linked to other neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s illness, Lewy body dementia, and multiple system atrophy. The symptoms generally get worse with time. Because the condition boosts the risk of injury to oneself and their bed partner, it usually needs therapy.

What is rem sleep behavior disorder?

A parasomnia group of parasomnias characterized by abrupt bodily movements and vocalizations during REM sleep. A certain kind of parasomnia refers to strange behaviors during sleep.

During normal REM sleep, when the body is temporarily paralyzed, and the brain displays activity comparable to wakefulness, blood pressure rises, breathing becomes irregular, and the eyes dart around rapidly (hence the term “rapid eye movement”). The temporary atonia of REM sleep allows us to dream safely while lying motionless as the brain works.

The chance of paralysis is meager, but it can affect otherwise healthy people. Paralysis affects 90 percent of your muscles and eliminates those that help you breathe, digest food, and some eye muscles. In addition, REM sleep accounts for about 25% of a whole night’s rest, with the majority of it happening during the second half.

Typical muscular immobility does not occur in individuals with REM sleep behavior disorder, allowing them to act out their dreams physically. Tiny muscle twitches and quiet sleep talking too loud, shouting, punching, kicking, grabbing one’s bed partner, and jumping out of bed are examples of REM sleep behavior disorder.

People with restless leg syndrome are frequently vivid and frightening. For example, they may dream about being chased or harmed without realizing it.

How Common Is REM Sleep Behavior Disorder?

It is common between 0.5 and 1 percent of individuals, a relatively uncommon ailment. Men and people older than 50 are more susceptible to REM sleep behavior disorder. Although rare, this condition can also strike children in high-risk settings.

What is rem sleep?

Normal sleep requires a complete shutdown of the body’s muscles, called atonia. In most cases, this paralysis occurs during REM sleep because brain activity and dreaming occur.

A person with normal atonia cannot move or speak while under this state. Alterations in REM sleep can affect how intense the state of atonia becomes. People with rem sleep behavior disorder have lost the ability to turn off their motor neurons. Still, they maintain muscle tone throughout their bodies as though they are fully conscious even though they are fast asleep. Any motion that causes a person to exert energy causes them to react. This often leads to insomnia due to frequent movements and high arousal levels from dreams that drive violent behavior.

My husband kicks in his sleep

A typical example is kicking or punching their partner due to vivid nightmares. People will not get up and act out the dream once they wake up since paralysis typically wears off just before waking. However, sleep talking can occur even after the time of atonia has passed. It generally happens during light stages of non-REM sleep just before reaching full wakefulness.

How to stop REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

There are medications specifically designed for this disorder that patients can take to experience relief of their symptoms while they sleep. The only catch is that these medicines do not bring back the ability of normal atonia; instead, they enable someone with this condition to turn off their responses on a more subtle level.

The significant side effects of these medications include sleepiness, loss of ability to perform complex tasks, and memory problems. However, as a whole, they are considered reasonably safe as drugs go for those who do not feel that their disorder is severe enough to justify invasive surgery options. In most cases, the condition occurs when someone has experienced significant stress or anxiety in their life recently.

Experts believe this could be a way for one’s brain to discharge excess stress and tension related to recent events. Consequently, once the brain becomes habituated to the condition, it tends not to happen again after a few months have passed without stress being present in one’s life.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder Treatment

Medication can help treat the symptoms of REM sleep behavior disorder. Also, a person can make lifestyle changes to reduce stress and tension.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder Symptoms

  • Kicking, hitting, flailing arms, or jumping from bed are examples of movement in response to the action. In addition, dreams about being hunted or protecting yourself from an attack may be vivid or violent.
  • Talking, laughing, shouting, emotional outbursts, and even swearing are noises.
  • If you wake up during the episode, you’ll be able to remember your dream.

What does REM treatment focus on?

If you and your loved ones have any of these symptoms, it may be a good idea to consult a doctor to get an ideal diagnosis and treatment plan in place.

Treatment for this condition usually focuses on relieving the motor phenomena so that the individual experiences less disruption during sleep. Treating psychological illnesses such as anxiety or depression does not significantly improve this condition. Some patients opt for at-home remedies before seeing their doctors because they cannot afford medical insurance or lack coverage. If one feels that they can handle the task, going to bed with a different sleeping position could reduce the number of times one kicks or punches.

Is REM more common in men or women?

Being unable to stop one's reactions during REM sleep is often caused by other medical problems such as Narcolepsy or brain injury that affect how well messages are communicated between parts of this condition. The disorder also appears to be much more common in men than women.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder Treatment

Rem sleep behavior disorder treatment mainly focuses on relieving muscular contractions so that people with this condition experience less disruption during their sleep cycles. However, treating psychological issues such as stress and anxiety does not significantly improve this condition. As a result, some patients opt for at-home remedies before seeing their doctors because they cannot afford medical insurance or lack coverage.

Some people try to reduce kicking or punching during REM sleep by changing the position that they go to bed in. This is known as sleep positioning therapy and can be used by people who are not affected to discard the habit of sleeping on their stomach, which relieves pressure put on the lower limbs while lying on one’s back. What do you think?

What causes REM sleep?

What causes RBD is unknown. However, animal research suggests that it has to do with specific brain pathways. For example, specific neural pathways that inhibit muscular activity during REM sleep in individuals without RBD are disrupted, causing REM sleep atonia.

Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder

This condition is caused by the lack of effective signals to the brain and then to the spinal cord, which ends in a loss of muscle tone during REM sleep. This means that the brain doesn't receive all the necessary signals required to move muscles.

Is yelling in your sleep considered normal?

Sleep talking happens typically on its own and is usually harmless. However, it could be a symptom of a more significant sleep disturbance or health problem in rare circumstances. Sleep disorders such as REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) and sleep terrors lead some people to scream while sleeping.

Sleep disorders list

Most Researched Sleep Disorders

  • Insomnia
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Narcolepsy
  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
  • Parasomnias
  • REM Sleep Behavior Disorder
  • Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder
  • Excessive Sleepiness

Is it normal to act out a dream?

According to experts, acting out dream activities in this manner is typical. It differs from REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), a sleep problem that may result in injury or disrupted slumber.

Scratching yourself in your sleep means

Nonspecific behaviors in the brain when one is asleep include sleep talking, sleepwalking, and restless leg syndrome. These may not be related to REM behavior disorder unless they lead to injury or disrupted slumber. 

How old is rem?

In most REM sleep behavior disorder cases, individuals show signs of the condition by age 50. However, it can also develop at a much younger age and may even appear in infants and children.

Is RBD dangerous?

RBD can occur up to 50 years before signs of other neurological illnesses appear. It can lead to more serious cognitive, emotional, and neurological disorders, such as apathy, in those who experience it. Attention scores are lower.

What is REM sleep intrusion?

Some patients with Narcolepsy have reported that they can travel through time. This is why some individuals experience longevity in the same manner that a computer program can run indefinitely without requiring maintenance or updates. Patients who have chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and other encephalopathy-related illnesses typically report sleeping more deeply than usual before sleep onset, allowing them to consolidate their sleep better.

In addition, people with these conditions frequently fall asleep sooner and sleep longer at night than those who don’t have any health issues. The average adult needs seven hours of shut-eye each night for optimum mental functioning. Patients with Narcolepsy are said to enter REM sleep much faster, sometimes as soon as after falling asleep.

Does Klonopin affect REM sleep?

Klonopin (clonazepam) is a sedative used to treat anxiety and the standard therapy for REM sleep behavior disorder, which suggests that it works well.

How can REM be treated?

In most situations, medication is sufficient to treat this problem. The most common medicine used to treat clonazepam (Klonopin) is Clonazepam (Klonopin). Melatonin, a dietary supplement that can help relieve symptoms, may also be prescribed by your doctor.

What is an aggressive sleeper?

The presence of sleepwalking and other forms of somnambulism does not necessarily imply that the individual is suffering from rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder. When individuals are most vulnerable during REM sleep, they physically act out vivid, often distressing dreams with vocal noises and sudden, often violent arm and leg movements sometimes referred to as dream-enacting behavior.

Why do I get so angry in my sleep?

The lack of general atonia during REM sleep seen in RBD (REM sleep behavior disorder) is a REM-sleep parasomnia characterized by excessive movement during sleep and vivid dream recall upon waking. When awoken, most people with this condition have extremely active dreams containing violent or frightening imagery.

Falling out of bed while sleeping

Some people have experienced falling out of bed while sleeping but do not suffer from REM sleep behavior disorder. Therefore, other causes should be ruled out before concluding that the person is suffering from this type of parasomnia.

What is the meaning behind my dreams?:

During REM, an individual’s brain and body function as if it were fully awake, albeit in a state of virtual paralysis — a requirement for vivid dreaming to take place. 

What is an active sleeper?

People who suffer from the sleepwalking disorder are sometimes referred to as active sleepers because of their propensity to wake up and begin walking around.

Trauma-induced paralysis involves

Propriospinal inhibition of motor neurons provides a state of muscle paralysis during REM sleep. The mechanism underlying this state is not understood. But it may involve selective areas of the pontine reticular formation near descending brainstem pathways that activate motoneurons.

Why do my limbs jerk around?

The muscles in the arms and legs can twitch rapidly (called myoclonus) and even move on their own (called myoclonic jerks or dysfunction) while you’re asleep. Especially during light sleep stages 1 and 2, as well as in REM sleep. 

What does it mean when you feel like someone’s pinching you in a nightmare?:

During a nightmare (or horrible dream), your muscles might tense up or flail about, even though you're fast asleep and physically paralyzed. 

Is sleep paralysis common in children?

Sleep paralysis is much more common in teenagers and young adults, especially those going through puberty. It can also happen to those deprived of sleep or those who struggle with Narcolepsy. In rare cases, it’s a symptom of other neurological conditions, such as epilepsy or brain tumors.

Do your eyes move when you sleep?

Scientists have found that the brain’s visual cortex, which handles vision data, is active during REM sleep. In other words, while your eyes do move around while you sleep, they are not actively processing visual information. So sleep essentially gives your eyes a rest by closing them.

Injury Prevention Techniques

One of the essential things a person with REM behavior sleep disorder can do to prevent injury creates a safe sleeping environment. Unfortunately, individuals with REM sleep behavior disorder have been observed suffering from sleep-related injuries, including bruising, cuts, fractures, blunt trauma, and head trauma. In addition, when sleeping next to someone who unconsciously acts out violent dreams, the bed partner is also vulnerable to injury.


If you and someone you care about have been diagnosed with REM sleep behavior disorder, it is crucial to inform your doctor. Because REM sleep behavioral disorders are an uncommon condition, you might want to save this article for future reference.


Ameer is the content director of Sleepingmentor, which means he not only reviews new mattresses, bedsheets, pillows, and mattress toppers every week, but also curates all the comparisons, best of pages, reviews pages, and vs pages on the site. He takes a straightforward, honest approach to his reviews. He covers sleep science by researching a lot on Google and finding meaningful content which entertains his users.

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