What is RBD?

There’s an interesting blog post on CNNHealth this week from sleep expert Dr. Lisa Shives on a disorder called REM behavior disorder, or RBD. What is it? Let’s hear from Dr. Shives:

RBD occurs when people are able to act out their dreams or usually their nightmares.  Most of us are not able to do this because in REM sleep, which is where we have our vivid dreams, our muscles are very relaxed, almost paralyzed.   If we reason backwards from what happens in RBD, we see that this is a self-protection mechanism so that we don’t throw ourselves off a cliff fighting the saber tooth tiger.

Dr. Shives tells of a patient who repeatedly attacked his wife while he was sleeping.  He said he was acting out dreams (which he remembered quite well) in which he was actually saving his wife from attackers.

RBD is a good news/bad news situation.  The good news is that it’s treatable.  The bad news is that it can be an early indication of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.

Read more about RBD at CNNHealth.