National Sleep Foundation

Chapter 6: Parasomnias

Etiology and Risk Factors for Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD)

The majority of RBD patients (80 to 90 percent) are male.

As more research is conducted on RBD, it appears that the majority of patients with RBD have concurrent neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s Disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and multiple system atrophy1.  For example, subjective reports suggest that 25 percent of Parkinson’s patients experience RBD2.  It has been suggested that RBD may be an early symptom of some of these disorders, although studies have not yet confirmed this theory.3    

Other studies link use of some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors with RBD4.  It can be induced by the onset or discontinuation of medications (e.g., tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, SSRIs, withdrawal from alcohol).5 

RBD is also found in more than half of all patients who have narcolepsy.6

References

  1. Gagnon JF, Postuma RB, Mazza S, Doyon J, Montplaisir J. Rapid-eye-movement sleep behaviour disorder and neurodegenerative diseases. Lancet Neurol. 2006;5:424-432.
  2. Mahowald MW, Schenck  CH, “REM Sleep Parasomnias,” in Kryger M, Roth T, Dement W (ed.), Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine (5th Edition), St. Louis: Elsevier Saunders, 2011, pages 1083-1097.
  3. Mahowald MW, Schenck  CH, “REM Sleep Parasomnias,” in Kryger M, Roth T, Dement W (ed.), Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine (5th Edition), St. Louis: Elsevier Saunders, 2011, pages 1083-1097.
  4. Boeve, B., REM sleep behavior disorder:updated review of the core features, the RBD-neurodegenerative disease association, evolving concepts, controversies, and future directions, Ann N Y Acad Sci;1184:15-54, 2010.
  5. Schenck CH, Mahowald MW. Rapid eye movement sleep parasomnias. Neurol Clin. 2005;23:1107-1126.
  6. Mahowald MW, Schenck  CH, “REM Sleep Parasomnias,” in Kryger M, Roth T, Dement W (ed.), Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine (5th Edition), St. Louis: Elsevier Saunders, 2011, pages 1083-1097.