RBD patients waiting years before seeing a physician

People with REM sleep behavior disorder wait an average of nearly nine years before getting diagnosed, a new study reported. REM sleep behavior disorder occurs when a sleeping person acts out vivid dreams. These dreams are often filled with action, and may even be violent.

A study out of Scotland looked at 30 REM sleep behavior disorder patients. The patients were asked why they took so long to see a physician. Most (59 percent) said they didn’t think the symptoms were serious enough. Nearly as many (56 percent) said their REM sleep behavior disorder was mild or infrequent. Other patients (47 percent) believed the symptoms would go away or they simply didn’t know enough about REM sleep behavior disorder to seek help.

The patient’s bed partner was an important influence. The decision to seek treatment for REM sleep behavior disorder was made jointly by patient and partner in 47 percent of the cases. The study appeared in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

REM sleep behavior disorder episodes tend to get worse over time. Early episodes may involve mild activity. Later episodes can be more violent. At some point it is likely to result in an injury. Either the person dreaming or the bed partner may be hurt.

REM sleep behavior disorder can be confused with sleepwalking and sleep terrors. Learn more about REM sleep behavior disorder and other sleep disorders. For treatment, or if you need any help sleeping, locate an accredited sleep center near you.