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Sleep violence

02-03-2012

When you think of sleep, you generally think of it as a relaxing and peaceful time and while that is true for most of us, there are a number of people for whom sleep is a violent period. These people will act out their dreams while they are fast asleep. The condition is called the REM sleep behaviour disorder and it is one of the more physically destructive sleep disorders.

The rapid eye movement period of sleep, abbreviated to REM, is the stage where we are in a deep sleep but we are also experiencing heightened brain activity, which is actually extremely similar to the brain activity we experience when we are awake. Because of this contrast, REM sleep is often referred to as paradoxical sleep. It is the period where we are both deep asleep and seemingly wide awake at the same time.

For most people, during this period of sleep, their bodies are paralysed, preventing us from acting out our dreams physically.  However, in people with REM sleep behaviour disorder, this paralysis is either totally absent or sporadic, meaning that they will physically act out their dreams.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see how dangerous this could be. Our dreams can often be wild and chaotic, not something you would want to be acting out in the real world.


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