Top Abnormal Sleep Behaviours

REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder

What is REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder?

REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder (RBD) is a disorder where an individual will act out unusual movements while they are asleep. It can look as though they are acting out a dream with sudden movements, shouting, flailing and jumping. These episodes can last up to two hours, and can be disrupting or potentially dangerous for bed partners.

RBD is caused by irregularities in a person’s REM sleep cycle. A normal sleep cycle will transition through a series of sleep states, including Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and Non-Rapid Eye Movement. We usually dream during the stage of REM sleep. When a person has REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder, the brain sends the wrong signals to the nerves which causes muscles to stay alert during REM sleep instead of relaxing. The muscles are then able to become active during dreaming.

Treatment of REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder

RBD is a medical condition which can be treated depending on the cause. The sudden and vigorous movements experienced during RBD can be potentially dangerous for you or a bed partner. If you think you or your partner may be experiencing symptoms of RBD, it is important to see your GP or Sleep Specialist. RBD can sometimes be a side effect of certain medications, in which case the individual should seek advice from their GP for an alternative medication.

Sleep Talking

What is Sleep Talking?

Sleep talking, also known as somniloquy, is a type of sleep disorder where an individual talks during sleep without being aware of it.  Sleep talking can occur during any stage of sleep. It can include fully formed sentences, jibberish or mumbling. A person who sleep talks normally isn’t aware that they are talking in their sleep. It can sometimes occur during the deeper stages of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, where words spoken in a dream can be spoken out loud. Sleep talkers can sometimes be very loud. Sleep talking is very common among children, and while most normally outgrow it, it can persist into adulthood.

Treatment of Sleep Talking

Although it’s not physically harmful to an individual, sleep talking can be disturbing for a bed partner or others in the home. In some cases, sleep talking can be a symptom of a more serious medical condition. For this reason, it is always advised to seek medical advice from your GP or Sleep Specialist.

Sleep Walking

What is Sleepwalking?

Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, is a disorder where individuals move around during sleep. Sufferers find may find themselves getting out of bed, moving around the house, and even performing tasks such as cleaning, cooking or even driving. Sleepwalking normally occurs during a combined state of sleep and wakefulness. Most sleepwalkers are not able to recall episodes of sleepwalking.

Sleepwalking is very common among children, and although most grow out of it, sleepwalking can persist into adulthood. For children, it can be associated with a stage of development. Among adults, sleepwalking can be an inherited disorder, or a side effect of certain medication. Heightened stress, irregular sleep patterns and other sleep problems can increase the risk of sleepwalking.

Treatment of Sleepwalking

Although sleepwalking is usually harmless, it can become a problem if the episodes include potentially dangerous activities are affecting your ability to function during the day. Sleepwalking is usually a treatable disorder. It is recommended to see your GP or Sleep Specialist for treatment if your sleepwalking is becoming a problem. Adopting a regular sleep schedule, reducing stress levels, having healthy sleep habits and avoiding stimulants such as caffeine before bedtime may reduce your risk of sleepwalking.

Night Terrors

What are Night Terrors?

Night terrors, also known as sleep terrors, are episodes of extreme terror and panic during the deep sleep period. There is a difference between night terrors and nightmares. Night terrors normally occur during the first 3 – 4 hours of Non-Rapid Eye Movement Sleep, which is known as non-dreaming sleep. On the other hand, nightmares usually occur during the dreaming stage of sleep, Rapid Eye Movement (REM). With nightmares, a sufferer can often recall the details of the dream and be awakened during it, but with night terrors a sufferer remains asleep and usually doesn’t remember the incident.

Sufferers of night terrors are generally inconsolable, especially as children. Screaming, sweating, and rapid heart rate and accelerated breathing are very common during night terrors. During a night terror episode, a person may sit up in bed, scream or thrash wildly while asleep.

Treatment of night terrors

Occasional night terrors, particularly among children, usually shouldn’t be a cause for concern. If the episodes become more frequent, are disrupting your sleep or ability to function during the day, or are leading towards dangerous or harmful behaviour, you should consult your GP or Sleep Specialist for advice and treatment of night terrors. A sleep study can sometimes determine whether the night terrors are being caused by an underlying sleep disorder. You may also find that adopting healthy sleep habits, following a regular sleep schedule and reducing stress levels could reduce the frequency of night terrors.