Sleep Disorders/Horrible sleep

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QUESTION: I sleep in the same bed as my mother. Twice in the past 4 months I have slapped her in my sleep. Very hard. Not a light slap or a sleepy slap but a full on slap to where I wake up and my hand hurts. Usually I am having dreams about fighting people or lashing out at someone who has made me angry. I also scream in my sleep sometimes (gibberish or curse words, it depends.) I toss and turn all night. I only wake up once or twice though, yet I always feel exhausted during the school day. What is happening? I've also punched things in my sleep (the lamp or alarm clock on my nightstand for example, or the headboard.) I don't do these things every night. Once every two weeks maybe, sometimes I'll do it two nights in a row but it is otherwise quite sporadic. The behavior doesn't seem to be getting worse or better either. It's just a very strange. I love my mom I don't want to hit or yell at her!!

ANSWER: Hi there thanks for writing. I have a few other questions so I can assist you better. How old are you, and are you male or female? Could you tell me approximately what time of the night this usually occurs. By that I mean the first half of the night or the last half of the night? Are you on any medications or have any other medical conditions?

Please let me know these things I can help you much better :)

Thanks!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I am an 18 year old female, it typically happens in the last half of the night or around the middle of the night, definitely not at the very beginning. I am on Prozac for depression and anxiety, other than that no medical conditions or past medical conditions.

Answer
Thanks for the extra info! Ok, so it definately sounds like you have rem beahvior disorder (rbd).

When we go into REM sleep, our brain paralyzes all of our muscles so we don't act out our dreams. Most dreaming occurs in the middle to last part of our sleep. When people have this disorder, the brain doesn't paralyze our muscles properly. The typical symptoms are violent, fighting and vivid dreams, punching, screaming out, etc. When this happens the person doesn't realize they are doing these things unless they are told, have hurt themselves or someone else. This sleep disorder will not affect any other aspect of their life....you are not 'sick' nor will it go into any other stage of sleep.

Please note, as you already know, this can be EXTREMELY dangerous to yourself and loved ones. There is nothing you can do to prevent it from happening. So, the very very first thing you need to do, is when distance yourself from objects and your mom for example....consider sleeping on mats on the floor....this is for your own safety. The very next thing you need to do is get a sleep study. They will diagnose it, and suggest medication that will be extremely helpful in lessening these behaviors at night.

One last note, RBD is very rare in itself, however being young and having it is even more rare, and being female and having it is even more rare yet!

I hope this helps, please feel free to ask any other questions!

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Erika Roggenback

Expertise

I can answer all questions related to any type of sleep disorders, or sleeping issues, for all ages. For sleeping disorders, these can include narcolepsy, REM Behavior Disorder (RBD), parasomnias such as sleep talking, walking or eating, and many more. I can also help with any issues dealing with sleep apnea or PAP. Lastly, I can give assistance on how to get a better nights sleep, sleep hygiene and how your medications can affect your sleep.

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I have been a sleep technologist for 13.5 years, having run studies on people of all ages.

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Registered Polysomnographic Technologist

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