REM Behavior disorder happens only 1/100th the time of sleep apnea and is essentially the opposite of Sleep Paralysis. During REM sleep you normally don’t move. This is called atonia, which is the normal paralysis of your voluntary limbs during the twenty percent of the time asleep when you are dreaming. With REM behavior disorder, instead of experiencing atonia you move around and perhaps act out your dreams. This can involve minor leg movements or crying out in your sleep. In some cases the symptoms are more extreme.
The majority of symptoms include movements like kicking, punching, flailing or jumping out of the bed, talking, laughing, and sometimes shouting and being able to remember your dream if you are woken up. It is different from sleep walking in that it is more animated, you can easily be woken up and will remember your dream.
More often than not REM sleep behavior disorder involves unpleasant or violent dreams, its onset can be sudden and it gets worse over time. The cause is unknown but it seems to appear more often in people over fifty and those who have a neurological disorder such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple system atrophy.
The danger of REM behavior disorder is the potential to harm yourself or your bed partner. The best thing to do is to make your sleep environment safe by putting barriers on the side of the bed, padding on the floor around the bed, moving furniture away from the bed, removing any sharp objects or weapons from the room and locking doors and windows.
Medications such as Clonazepam (Klonopin) can be prescribed to minimize symptoms as well as the dietary supplement Melatonin.