Sleep Disorders or Somnipathy is a medical disorder of the sleep patterns of a person is severe enough to affect his normal functioning in social, mental, emotional and physical fields. Sleep disorder comprises a host of conditions like Bruxism, clenching or grinding teeth in sleep involuntarily, Somnambulism to serious disorders like obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, and rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder, etc.
For instance, one very serious kind and type of sleep disorder are the Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder. REM sleep behavior disorder is one in which the patient physically tries to live the dreams as they happen. Normally one does not make any movements during REM sleep.
However, that doesn’t mean that REM sleep doesn’t happen for an average person – in fact, REM sleep occurs multiple times in a normal person. About 20% of sleep consists of REM sleep. Usually, it is during the REM sleep in second half of the night one dreams. The onset of this disorder is gradual with the symptoms worsening with time.
Symptoms of a REM sleep disorder normally are dreams of a fight or flight type situation and patients make violent arm and leg movements like kicking, punching and flying one’s arms around and even jumping from the bed in trying to live the dreams. The patient makes even sounds like talking, laughing screaming, shouting and even cursing. It is also called dream enacting behavior.
The doctor takes the history in detail and evaluates the patient both physically and neurologically. He would question the patient’s sleep partner in detail about the patient behavior in sleep in detail. The sleeping partner may even be required to fill in a questionnaire. He may order a polysomnogram. This is recording your vital information and brain activity during a night’s sleep. This helps to identify the cause. It may be indicative of the development of degenerative disorders.
Treatment involves physically protecting the patient and the sleep partner from physical harm besides medication. Medicines like melatonin a dietary supplement, clonazepam. Both are effective in reducing the symptoms. Search for other drugs is continuing.