Scientists Learning More About Sleep Movement Disorders

Recent research shows that people who suffer from Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behavior (RBD) disorder are more likely to develop some type of neuro-degenerative disease later in life. During “normal” sleep, individuals experience a type of muscle paralysis during the deepest phases of sleep.  Individuals with RBD, however, don’t experience this paralysis.  Instead of being still at night, they move during sleep, whether it be making small twitches or large movements that may be harmful to themselves or a bed partner.

This research, which is published in the current online issue of Neurology began with a questionnaire issued to participants, 347 people without the disorder and 347 with the disorder. Results indicated that people with RBD were about 60% more likely to have had a head injury in the past that resulted in unconsciousness. In addition, those participants who had RBD had on average fewer years of education, and were more likely to work as farmers. Now that researchers understand the risk factors and influences of RBD they plan to find better ways to intervene with the neuro-degenerative processes associated with the sleep disorder.