REM Sleep Behavior Disorder: Do You Act Out Your Dreams?

man jumping in a dream

Do you or your partner sometimes act out your dreams in your sleep? Do you sometimes accidentally hurt yourself or others by punching, kicking or lashing out?

Perhaps you show more complex behavior such as jumping out of bed or running across the room. And to add to the spectacle you might even shout, scream or sleep talk.

If so, it could be a sleep disorder known as REM sleep behavior disorder, also abbreviated to RBD. In this article I’ll be looking at what it is, what it might mean for you as well as strategies to treat it and limit the risk.

Hopefully you’ll gain a clearer understanding and be able to help either yourself or someone you know deal with it.


What is REM sleep behavior disorder?

RBD belongs to the category of sleep disorders known as parasomnias. To understand what it is exactly, it’s useful to first take a look at the stages of sleep.

During the night you cycle through different sleep stages, one of which is called the rapid eye movement stage, or REM stage for short.

It’s a stage which usually occurs during the second half of the night. You spend around 20% of the night in the REM stage, transitioning through the different stages during the night.

You usually dream during this stage, and your body becomes paralyzed to prevent you from injury by moving whilst asleep.

But sometimes the paralysis doesn’t quite work as it should, which is the case with REM sleep behavior disorder.

So when you enter the REM stage during the night, there’s the risk that you’ll do things which reflect your dream. This is particularly the case if it’s very dramatic, full of action or violent.


Cause and symptoms

Each time you enter the REM stage of sleep, nerve pathways in your brain prevent your muscles from moving. This then creates paralysis for the duration of the stage. But these pathways don’t function properly in people with RBD, so they don’t become paralyzed.

The main symptoms are:

  • Repeated episodes of dream enactment behavior. This could be movements like jerking, punching, kicking, flailing, jumping out of bed or other potentially dangerous actions. Often the person begins with jerking or twitching, followed by more aggressive or dramatic movement.
  • Making noises, usually reflecting a frightening dream such as loud shouting, screaming or swearing.
  • If woken during the episode you should be able to remember the dream content and not be confused. The dream often involves frightening scenarios such as being chased or attacked. You may remember the dream in detail for a long time afterwards.



It’s often tempting to diagnose yourself with sleep disorders. Sometimes it feels clear that what you experience is exactly the same as a medical definition.

RBD can easily be confused with other sleep disorders though, and some symptoms can also be caused by other conditions. So a doctor or sleep specialist needs to rule out other possible causes for the behavior, such as:

A doctor would take a careful history to both rule those out and check if you exhibit the symptoms of RBD.

And because the diagnosis needs to be based on evidence of muscle atonia and for the behavior to occur during REM sleep, it’s recommended that you’re assessed at a sleep center.

A sleep study is also very important if the dream enacting behavior is causing injury, or could cause it.

For more technical information about the way a polysomnogram sleep study is important in diagnosing RBD, have a look at this research article by Boeve in 2010. The article also provides detailed theories about the brain activity responsible for the lack of paralysis.

Understandably, not everybody has access to a sleep center which can make diagnosis difficult to achieve. But if you do have access to healthcare, then it’s important if your doctor suspects you may have RBD.

Finally, remember that most people sometimes do some strange things in their sleep from time to time. Before rushing to any conclusions that you have RBD, it’s important to remember that it needs to happen on a regular basis.



Fortunately there is treatment for RBD which is known to be effective. The most commonly prescribed medication is Clonazepam. Melatonin has also been found to help reduce symptoms. Your doctor may try other medication if they aren’t effective.

As well as taking medication there are practical steps you can take to reduce the risk of injury:

  • Make sure there are no sharp objects near the bed.
  • Make sure there are no sharp surfaces or breakable objects near the bed.
  • Making sure any windows or mirrors are either protected or far from the bed.
  • Put a padded surface or mattress on the floor next to the bed.
  • Use raised sides on the bed.
  • Some people decide to sleep in a sleeping bag or wear padding around their hands.
  • If necessary you and your partner can sleep in separate beds. Only sharing a bed when you want to be intimate.

In addition to this, you may find it useful to do the following to help reduce the episodes:

  • Try to keep a stable sleep pattern.
  • Don’t allow yourself to become overly tired.
  • Avoid alcohol or recreational drugs.
  • Treat any other sleep disorders you may have.

Coping with other people

You may feel embarrassed with a new partner or if sharing a room or house with friends or family. You can talk to your doctor about this who may arrange for counseling. They can help you find strategies to deal with both the symptoms and how they affect you.

In many ways one of the best courses of action is to be honest about the sleep disorder. Explain it to people who may inevitably see or hear you acting in a way they find unusual. And if necessary work with them to find ways to reduce the risk of injury or annoyance.


Association with neurodegenerative disorders

Research has shown (Shecnck et al in 1998 and the mayoclinic in 2012) that there’s a possible association between RBD and certain neurodegenerative disorders. For example, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), parkinson’s and Lewy body disease.

Understandably, this information can cause concern. It’s important to note though that not everyone who has RBD will develop a disorder later in life. So please don’t panic if you’re reading this because you have or suspect you may have RBD.

The research shows that if RBD is associated with one of these disorders, it often occurs years or decades before they develop. So the key is that you discuss your concerns and symptoms early with your doctor.

If you are diagnosed with RBD, your doctor may decide to monitor you for signs of the disorders. If one does develop in later years, you can deal with it as early as possible.


Your views

Do you or someone in your household have REM sleep behavior disorder, or do you suspect that you might have? If so, what type of behavior do you exhibit? Have you undergone any treatment, or do you take any protective measures?

It’s always useful for other readers to share experiences. Sometimes a reader can provide excellent advice which benefits many others. And often just knowing that you’re not alone can be a reassurance. So please feel free to share your story in the comments below.


199 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I remember like 3x in my adult life being woken up bc i was dreaming stupid dreams and moaning. I mean like, being chased by a raccoon and making stupid noises to chase it off. Im making those noises out loud lol I moved in with my bf in June and by August i was doing it alot. I kno it started out by stress and a yr and a half later, there really isnt any stress. I started with melatonin and 5 mgs did nothing. 10 mgs works wonders. After abt a month of taking it, i slowly started doing it again. I have the dumbest dreams and my bf says i do this growl/snarl thing. Alot. He said i flail and flop like im having a seizure. Im not tho. I do talk a lil bit. I did have some stress again between taxes and my transmission went out in a wks time. Im good now but it’s becoming almost an every nite thing again. Melatonin puts me to sleep but the absolutely stupid dreams have started again. Bf says i act possessed at time. Ugh. Lol Bf has delayed sleep disorder and 10 mgs makes him sleep 12 hrs +, 5 does nothing so he only takes melatonin if he doesnt work the next day. Im not violent, but do kick here and there but more of your dreaming and do that im falling jump. Im not one to take prescription drugs and not liking side affects that im reading. Im on the verge of tequila shots to make me pass out but who kno’s what’ll happen. Sigh.

    • Hi Dawn
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you’re dealing with this difficult sleep problem. It must be stressful for both of you. It sounds like you have a suspicion that stress is a factor in your life, so perhaps that’s a good place to start working on improving things. There are lots of things you can do to reduce stress on a daily basis, and specific exercises you can do before going to sleep. Stress can worsen all kinds of sleep problems, so it’s usually a good idea to tackle it if you know it’s a factor in your life. But it might also be worth speaking to your doctor about it. Even if they recommend meds, you don’t have to take them if you’re not keen on them.

  • I kick, get out of bed, knock stuff over or maybe just shout. This happens most nights now, it started a few years and had progressed. I am afraid to have my grandchildren stay as I am afraid I may hurt them. This is really stressing me out now. I had a brain scan which returned normal and am now waiting for further tests. I believe I have RBD .

    • Hi Jacinta
      Thanks for your comment, and sorry to hear your situation means you don’t feel you can have have family over. Hopefully the tests will help you understand what’s going on better.

  • I recently got released from federal prison. When I was in there I would have violent dreams of people attacking me. I would wake myself up by kicking the wall so hard I would hurt myself. Now that I am out I still continue to have these episodes and I’m scared because I don’t want to hurt my partner. Does this sound like a sleep disorder? It happens about once a month.

    • Hi Liz
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your concern, but unfortunately I can’t really say one way or the other. Many people have occasional episodes of sleep disturbances, but the only way to find out for sure if it’s a sleep disorder is to speak to your doctor about it and/or get a sleep study done.

  • I sometimes will yell out in my sleep waking me up. Does not happen often and usually having scary dream. I wake the whole house.

  • Hi Ethan ,

    I’ve been having trouble with sleep talking for the past 20 years , in the past few years it has got worse and my behaviour has become more aggressive but only verbally , I need help as in my profession in requires me to bunk and share cabins , in the night my sleep seems rather restless and my room mate is quite concerned for me .Is there any medication I can take too prevent this from reoccurring, after reading your study I do believe I have RBD. Please can you help .

    • Hi Sebastian
      Thanks for your comment. If you think you have RBD, the best step is to talk to your doctor to get a diagnosis. I don’t know of any over the counter medication that can help with it unfortunately. Th best thing you can do in the meantime is to talk openly to your room mates about it to avoid any awkwardness, and to do as much as possible to reduce stress and get a good amount of sleep in a stable pattern – assuming that’s possible for you!

  • Not frequently but at least once a month, I will punch or kick my parter as hard as I can trying to get away from the person chasing me/attacking me in my dreams. Is that considered normal?

    • Hi Michele
      Thanks for your comment. I think many people sometimes act out their dreams from time to time. Where it’s a problem depends on the frequency, severity and how it affects you. So even if it’s not often, but it can hurt them, it’s perhaps something to bring up with your doctor.

  • My husband first started kicking in his sleep some nights during a strike, in 1998. He is mild mannered, but in his dreams he was ‘kicking scabs’ but sometimes it was just ‘monsters’. During the 2 year strike it was a few times at least, a week. Then in the years after it was only maybe once a month at most. Now he is going through very hard and frustrating times and is back at it. Kicking almost every night…. he is 65 and it’s scaring me to read that he might end up with Parkinson’s! I asked the dr to prescribe antidepressants for him to help him through these very sad and hard times ! But Now I have anxiety for him. Does this sound like REM or would it have continued on a regular basis??

    • Hi Dee
      Thanks for your comment, and sorry to hear what you’re both going through. Stress and anxiety, which occur naturally during difficult times, can make sleep problems worse. So it could be that he has it, and it only flares up during harder times. But he would need a proper medical assessment to determine if it’s this or not.

  • I began the feeling that I couldn’t breathe and had to climb out of something to be able to breathe I climbed out then felt my blinds and woke up realizing I just broke 5 of my blinds pieces bent my curtain rod and my curtain was on the bed.Basically I climbed up and stood up while I was asleep.

  • I am very worried about my husband. He acts out in his dreams. He has kicked the dresser and banged it against the wall, jumped out off bed kicked and punched the air in his sleep. I yell at him and he wakes up and can remember his dream. He has hit me in the back before but did not hurt me. Four nights ago he pinched me so hard my arm is still badly bruised. He says he doesn’t remember. Now he is sleeping on the couch. He refuses to see a doctor. I am very upset and worried about him. We have been married almost 50 years and I don’t like sleeping alone. I am sad and scared.

    • Hi Linda
      Thanks for your comment. I’m very sorry to hear you’re feeling this way, and experiencing this with your husband. To be honest, sleeping separately is a good thing to do if there is the risk of injury. Many people with REM sleep behavior disorder, and many people in general, sleep separately, and it’s not a bad thing. I can understand you not liking sleeping alone, but your safety is also important.
      If he won’t see his doctor, perhaps you could speak to your own doctor to get their advice? And have you spoken with him about the possibility of it being this sleep disorder? Or if he’s willing to try and of the tips about good sleep health in general?

  • So every so often I find a bruise on my upper arm when I wake up, I don’t remember any dreams but somehow I know I have bitten my own arm. Why am I doing this?

    • Hi Teresa
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear that – you must be vert worried when it happens. It could be that you’re acting out a dream, but it’s hard to say. I would definitely mention it to your doctor to see if they can offer any advice.

  • Hi Ethan,
    I’ve had a lot of experiences, last night I felt like some one, a big man was lying on me. I sat up in bed and screamed like some one was killing me, the scream was so loud. I also gave myself whip lash from sitting up and throwing my head forward so hard. I’m sore today. My partner said I was shaking prior to this happening. I wake up, say sorry to him for scaring him and go back to sleep.
    Previously I have seen people both men and women. A few weeks ago a girl was standing next to my bed but she was facing the wall and she looked like my 14 yr old daughter. I looked at her and after having so many of these experiences just went back to sleep.
    A few months prior man was standing next to my bed, again I sat up and screamed really loud.
    A lady in a really pretty dressed floated into my room. Sometimes I feel peaceful where I can see them and not fear them and some I just scream.
    Prior to that I sleep walked into my wardrobe and got stuck behind all my clothes. My partner woke to me banging on the wardrobe door to get out.
    And prior to that I saw leaves in our bed and when I moved them way it was a dead body.
    One was a bit more exciting where I was in a big hall at the footy show and they were throwing out prizes where you had to pop the balloon to win so I started trying to pop balloons in bed. I have also got up and put perfume on and offered cups of tea whilst sleep walking.
    As you can see this is now quite regular and I almost used to it. Should I be worried?

    Thank you Ethan.

    Kind regards
    It would be great if you could give some advice about my experiences.

    • Hi Natalie
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your concern. Unless you’re asleep and dreaming of events happening in your bedroom (which happens to some people), it sounds to me like many of your experiences could be attributed to sleep hallucinations, rather than REM sleep behavior disorder. Having said that, if you do some of the more active things while still sleeping, then it could be that too. It’s possible you have more than one thing going on. The first experience could even have been sleep paralysis.
      My advice would be to talk to your doctor about all the different experiences. You can mention sleep hallucinations, sleep paralysis and REM behavior disorder to see what they think.

  • For the last couple of years, occassionally I would cry out in my sleep from a nightmare or I would just talk in my sleep.
    Last night it was something completely new!! I had a dream, which I remember vividly, that someone was taking all the ham and cheese off the sandwiches I had made and putting the ham and cheese on her sandwich. I remember that I tried to smack her hand but in reality I was smacking my poor husband who was right next to me. He woke up with a start – I freaked him right out!!

    I don’t drink or do any drugs and we go to bed at the same time every night. We had seen the movie, Thor – could I have been reacting to the violence? I usually don’t watch anything that is too violent.

    • Hi Barbara
      Thanks for your comment. It’s impossible to say if the movie influenced your action while asleep, though I can see why you connected it! I wouldn’t worry too much if it was a one off. But if it keeps happening, it’s something to mention to your doctor.

  • This started a few years ago. It only happens when I go to bed and drink alcohol. My gf tells me i wake up out of no where and start swearing in my sleep, and sometimes I actually stand up on the bed or whatever. Their were a few times I got up out of bed and punched the tv or punched the wall. I wake up in the morning, not remembering a thing. It only happens after I go to bed and consuming alcohol. Even if I drink only 4 or 5 beers, it still happens. I did some research but nothing comes up with my experience,

    • Hi Aaron
      Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you know it’s clearly connected to alcohol in your case. Have you spoken to your doctor about it to get their opinion on what’s going on? I think in cases like this, you might have to accept that the alcohol is interfering with your sleep in a negative way. So the choice is yours as to what to do with that information. Perhaps try drinking only 1 or 2 instead of only 4 or 5 and see if it still happens, and go from there?

  • Last Night I had a very weird dream where I caught my wife and my brother intimate, I was so angry in the dream that even when I was awake it felt like I was still dreaming, This is when I lashed out on my wife and almost strangled her until I regained consciousness.

    I couldn’t understand what had happend and why I would behave in such a manner, I felt so bad because I am not a violent person naturally.

    Now I am very scared because this is the 3rd time it has happend in the last 4 years.
    This phenomena in-explainable, and I am afraid it might get worse as the years go by.

    We are very happy in our marriage and last night we slept very happy, there’s no logical reason why I would behave as I did Honestly.

    Anyone been helped with this condition in South Africa?

  • In the last month or two, I have been screaming in my sleep or punching my “new” boyfriend while we are sleeping in bed. Two nights ago i punched him in the nose and last night I was sleeping by myself and woke up on the floor after I jumped out of bed scared from a person chasing me in my dream. I wasn’t hurt but i hit my head and legs on chairs around my bed. I’ve never experienced these type of things before but they seem to become more and more frequent. Also I took melatonin the night i jumped out of bed, so I thought that may have caused it. I just started taking melatonin a week ago cause i keep waking up in the middle of the night and not able to go to sleep. Thank you!

    • Hi Jayme
      Thanks for your comment, and sorry for the delay in replying. I imagine you both must be quite concerned by this happening in your sleep. It sounds like you started having activity in your sleep before the melatonin though, if I understand right? Did it start happening around the time you got together? Perhaps there’s some anxiety there in sharing the bed with a new partner? If you’re still exhibiting this behavior at night, I think it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about it though. It’s better to ask for help than keep dealing with the unpredictability of what might happen when you’re sleeping.

  • My whole life I have had vivid dreams and even have kept dream journals to try to make sense of my dreams. As a child I accoasionally sleep walked. One night my parents found me outside sleepwalking. Although I don’t believe I sleep walk anymore, I do still act out my dreams and talk in my sleep. I have had dreams that somebody punched me in the face, to wake up and realize I punched myself and gave myself a bloody lip. I have woken up from a dream about eating to find myself chewing my sheets. I have dreams of running and my husband has woken me up because I’m literally running in the bed. It use to be a joke in my family that on any family trips my grandmother and I should sleep in the same bed and let our dreams battle, because she and I have the same crazy sleeping habits (although she yells in her sleep and I talk or wisper). But what’s scary is that about 10 years ago my grandmother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I really can’t help but to wonder if one day I’ll end up with the same disease.

    • Hi Kendra
      Thanks for your comment, and my apologies for the delay in replying. I can understand why you’d want to make sense of your dreams if you’ve had so many of these kind of experiences. Have you ever spoken to your doctor about it, or a sleep specialist? I think it might be a good idea if you’re worried about it, and also if you injure yourself in the night.

  • Me and my husband were both sleeping downstairs in a vacation spot. The next thing that happens was that i saw something upstairs sitting on the roof, and i actually ran upstairs and i cant even remember that i did that. My husband told me its affecting my sleep. I cant go to sleep so i don’t enjoy going to sleep.

    • Hi Lisa
      Thanks for your comment. If this is happening regularly and it’s affecting your sleep and daily life, I recommend speaking to your family doctor about it.

  • Thank you for the opportunity to comment…As a child I was a sleep walker to the extent that I once woke up outside on the front lawn…I remember yelling out for my mother, and how the grass was frosted, the sky dusky just before the sun rises…I used to walk into sleep and often walk into the living room and just stand with the typical glossy eyed look but could easily be redirected back to bed… I talked in my sleep as well… what has now caused me some alarm is that this past week I was having a dream in which I was being attacked and my course of defence was to bite the perpetrator … as I was doing so in my dream I awoke to my 6 year old son crying awake screaming “Mommy, why did you do that to me!!” …I awoke biting down on my son’s left wrist causing him great fear but also broken skin, some bleeding and bruising… I am horrified by this as it was the second time now I have acted out a dream directed to my sweet son…the first not as violent but I was grabbing him telling him I was going to kill him as I guess I did so in a violent dream…luckily my partner at the time slowly eased me out of the dream and no harm came to my son…(my son usually crawls into bed with me)…I am very concerned now as I recognize these are signs of RBD…I am going to be seeking medical advice immediately as I cannot risk my son (myself or anyone for that matter) …Since there is a strong correlation to this sleep disorder and some very serious neurological disorders, I am somewhat concerned … fifty percent of cases!!

    • Hi Jennifer
      Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry to hear this happened – it must have been very upsetting for both of you. I hope you can get some help from your doctor that keeps you both safe.

  • I have dealt with some strange episodes in my sleep now for a few years but it seems to be a regular occurrence now since having my son in January.
    I wake every couple of nights in a panic jumping out the bed and checking corners in the room and the bed for what I think is spiders? My partner tried to calm me down and although I know he’s talking sense it takes me a couple of minutes and I feel like I need to continue what I was doing to put my mind at ease.
    Last week I woke on my hands and knees underneath the window frantically tapping the carpet in tears.
    I am concerned that one night I might approach my sons cot as he is still sharing our room until we make the move to a larger home.

    • Hi Gemma
      Thanks for your comment. Have you spoken to your doctor about this? If it’s happening regularly and causing you distress, it’s a good idea to bring it up with them.

  • I think it is kind of alarming what Clinic Mayo in associating REM sleep disorder with Parkinson and Alzheimer. It has created panic in the community suffering from this disorder .
    The idea of becoming a walking Zombie in the future is horrorising. Please do not judge me as a religious fanatic but I’m starting to believe in Demon interaction during the most fragile hours 1when people is sleeping .
    I know there is thousands of people with this problem. I come from a Family of 14 members and I use to hear them many times talking in their sleep. I have the same problem of kicking and punching while asleep.
    I saw my dog this morning doing the same. And most of the dogs I have had used to do that . So that means they are bound to become automatats in the future ?
    If dogs don’t get Parkinsons and Alzheimer in the future then mankind is doomed to become pandemic from a sleep disorder .
    Everybody knows someone who kicks and punches while sleeping but not to many people with Parkinsons and Dementia. Why ?

  • I have been screaming, bitting ,yelling,kicking and punching for as long as I can remember. I remember the whole dream and colors when I awaken during these episodes. My dreams at that time are very vivid to the point that I have to anylize them as to wether the event was a reality.

    • Hi Nancy
      Thanks for your comment. If this is a regular occurrence, I think it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about it to get their opinion, and to help you keep safe at night.

  • Yesterday after consumed alcohol i went to bed with my friends. When I was in the deep sleep unknowingly started started shouting and hitting the bed. But I don’t remember anything. In the morning when my friends were sharing that what i did in the night. I started feeling embarrassed in front of them. Why it happened and how can i stop doing like this
    Kindly help me

  • I woke up in the middle of the night, roughly about 1hour or so after I sleep, and I started walking to my dad’s room (about 15 feet away), for no apparent reason. I have no control over my body and not sure what I’m doing. I start panicking and shouting random things. Then staggering to the toilet bowl and then falling to my knees, face near the toilet seat rim, starting to cough really hard then vomitting. it’s hard to comprehend what I’m doing but I started saying something like”I cannot do it” or “I cannot complete the cycle”. Then the panic continues. My brother and father questioned me on what’s going on, able to hear them ask me that question but not being able to reply them, felt very helpless. it went on for 30 mins or so until I was fully conscious then drank a glass of water then heading back to sleep.

    • Hi Shawn
      Thanks for your comment. That sounds incredibly upsetting, both for you and them to see I imagine. Has anything like this happened before, or have you ever had sleep problems in the past?

  • I wake up at 3:30 every morning and do strange things. Maybe do my hair and make up then go back to sleep. Sometimes i search the house for people that aren’t there. Sometimes i eat in my sleep. I have recently awoke everyone searching for a giant spider. .ugh!

  • I regularly wake up screaming and running down the stairs.I end up sitting on the stairs and after a few minutes go back to bed and sleep.I only know all this because my husband and daughter told me.I have no memory of any of this.It, does interfere with my social life as I won’t spend a night away from home.

  • I’ve talked in my sleep off and on since I was a kid. A couple of years ago I got out of bed while I was sleeping and tripped over a chair which woke me up. Ended up with a huge nasty bruise on my shin and it was months before the pain faded. I really hurt myself. Now over the last few months I keep waking myself up by yelling words in my sleep. I usually remember what I was dreaming when I wake myself up yelling but sometimes I don’t remember what I was dreaming, just what I was yelling to wake myself up. Sometimes it’s one word and other times I yell out a complete sentence. I have woken up laughing before and have woken up crying. I am always still so tired when I wake up in the morning. I had a sleep study done a few years ago to test for sleep apnea and in order to qualify I had to stop breathing an average 5 times an hour and I averaged 4.7. So close but not close enough for insurance to pay for an apnea machine.

  • For years, several times a week I yell, curse, punch and kick in my sleep. The majority of the time it is at family! I have embarrassed myself at friends’ homes. I have kicked glasses of water off the nightstand and even kicked my cat off the bed. Tonight I awoke (at 2:30 am) to my dog crying because I was squeezing her leg because I was squeezing something in my dream. This freaked me out so bad, I googled and found your article. I’m so exhausted and now fearful I may hurt my animals or even my husband. He constantly has to wake me up because I am yelling and cursing. Sometimes I wake myself up.

    • Hi Deanna
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your worry – it must be horrible thinking you could hurt your family or pets. I think it might be good to mention it to your doctor. And in the meantime, keep your bedroom door shut and pets out, and remove and glass or sharp objects from around the bed. Your husband will I imagine stay in bed and deal with it, but you could offer the idea of sleeping separately if he or you are worried about safety until you speak to someone about it.

  • My story is somewhat a mix of different occurrences.I’ve been told and sometimes catch myself talking loudly in my sleep.The thing thats most concerning to me is lately I notice I have been biting my tongue in my sleep almost every night to the point where my tongue actually bleeds.I wake up instantly when it happens usually ,but I fall right back asleep afterwards. I’ve also noticed about two months ago I was having a horrible dream that I was fighting someone and I punched the head of my bed so hard I sprained my wrist.
    The episode that frightens me the most is the one that happened last night, where I was also dreaming that I was fighting someone and I bit my forearm so bad I’m now in excruciating pain.Now i fear going to bed and that my sleep will be disturbed.I dont want to hurt myself again or worse bite a piece of my tongue off.Do you think all this is caused by a sleep disorder? Your help will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Isabella
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand why you’d be so worried about this. I think it’s definitely wise to speak to your primary care doctor as soon as possible. If you can, perhaps get a gum shield or mouth guard to see if you can reduce the damage done by biting your tongue? You should be able to find a moldable one easily in a pharmacy or online. Your dentist is also someone who can help make one for you. It might not stop the problem from happening, but perhaps mitigate the damage. And meanwhile, do talk to your doctor.

  • I’ve been having these things for as long as I can remember. They are not often but sporadic maybe once every 6 months to a year sometimes longer. Would that seem normal or should I seek medical advice. I already take clonazapam. Was taking zanex before that. I’m on anti depressants and pain meds for the last 15 years. But I have had the episodes before going on meds also. Hearing about Parkinson’s scares me. I’m only 51 years old.

  • I just experienced my second “action” dream where I’m “acting out” a part and ended up falling out of bed. This second episode finds me in a football game – I’m playing defense – middle line-backer. I recall that all of the players were wearing a yellow-shaded uniform and I’m bracing myself to follow the play and react as necessary. I was quite active in my position and thinking of all of the ways that the opposition might try to block me to avoid me from making the play (e.g., tackling the runner, etc.). All of a sudden I found myself caught between defending against someone running with the ball and someone who was running toward me to catch a pass. I found myself a little off-balance and seemed to be falling to the ground because I was trying to react too quickly and fell – and, that’s when I found myself on the floor – falling on my right arm and luckily missing the night table (I wasn’t injured very badly – just shaken a little by the force of landing on my arm). I wasn’t in my bed at home but rather staying over at my sister’s house. I do recall being a little extra tired yesterday and especially just before going to bed. My wife and I were visiting cousins upstate and I had driven a good amount over the past couple of days – finishing our trip with a stay-over at my sister’s house before heading home later today.

    I had an earlier episode about a year ago – the “action” taking place in the dream caused me to take a punch at someone who was harassing me – I recall that I wound up to swing at the antagonist and missed which resulted in my falling out (more or less “following through” on my punch and falling to the ground) of bed and hitting the side of my head on a piece of furniture. The contact with the furniture was quite hard – I ended up with a large bruise on my head and a cut over my eyebrow that required me to maintain pressure on the wound for about a 1/2 hour before the bleeding stopped (it didn’t require any special medical attention). The bruise on the side of my head was quite tender for a period of at least a week or so.

    I recall telling my doctor about the dream and he immediately asked me if I was having difficulty at home – in effect, maybe arguing with my wife, etc. However, that wasn’t the case – I didn’t recall anything that might have precipitated the action.

    Interestingly enough, I had been quite cautious when going to bed almost every night from the first episode – placing a pillow between the bed and the night table at home and even keeping a pillow or two on the floor – just in case I had a repeat episode. Interestingly, each time I’ve slept in a bed other than my own I’ve thought about how to protect myself from falling out of bed (staying at friend or relative’s house, hotel, etc.) – so, it is something that’s been on my mind.

    I usually sleep on my right-side facing the outside of the bed – I do, from time to time make adjustments during my sleep – awaken and sleep on my left-side as well, but have fallen both times while sleeping on my right-side.

    One last thing, the first episode came just about a few weeks before I had my first treatment for cervical dystonia (treatment being BOTOX injections in the back of my neck and shoulder area). BOTOX, as you might be aware, causes certain muscles to relax (somewhat like a paralysis to avoid them from being over active and causing my head to have involuntary movements). I’ve had three treatments in the interim – each 3 months apart. I mentioned this only to provide some additional information – if in fact it might have any bearing on my recent dream.

    I thought that what I’ve provided is sufficient – at least for an initial assessment and would welcome any questions where I might be able to provide additional information – if in fact there were other circumstances that I didn’t mention.

    • Hi Robert
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience. Just to clear up any confusion, I don’t provide any assessments – I just respond to people’s comments sometimes with ideas that come to mind if I feel it might be helpful. To be assessed, you need to speak to your primary care doctor about these episodes and/or a sleep specialist. And based on what you’ve described, especially with the injuries, I definitely recommend doing so to get some help.

  • Hi Ethan,

    Just wondering if this might be regular sleep walking or REM sleep behavior disorder. I think I was sleep walking while dreaming.

    In the dream, I was walking on a road, taking a left turn and a right, passing some stores, saw a cemetery down the road, etc. I briefly saw some yellow shorts on a doorknob, then continued walking and then entered underneath (inside) a field of yellow flowers before sitting down at a table with a couple of people. It was a peaceful dream, not a big deal, but when I woke, I realized I had walked two floors down to the basement, gotten my yellow pants out of the dryer, and then went back upstairs to my bed and got under the comforter (which is yellow with a bunch of flowers on it).

    As far I know, this is the first and only time I have sleep-walked. And I’m reading some things online that say you don’t dream when sleepwalking, and if you do it’s during REM sleep, which is how I ended up reading about REM sleep behavior disorder. Should I be concerned?

    Thank you!


    • Hi Amanda
      Thanks for your comment. I think it’s a little more complicated than that. But one other thing that’s very important is the frequency. If it’s the only time it’s happened to you, then you’re unlikely to be given a diagnosis. So I think unless it happens more frequently, it’s kind of impossible to work out what you experienced in this case.

  • i woke up last night punching the floor and then i threw my pillow on the floor, i cant remember anything else about why i did it or what caused it! is this something i should raise with a doctor?

    • Hi Kyle
      Thanks for your comment. If this is something you’ve done more than once, or last night has particularly worried you, then yes you could mention it to them to get their opinion.

  • I could cry right now reading this article and the comments. For the past three years I have been having nightmares, screaming in my sleep, throwing myself out of bed and hitting my head incurring black eyes, back injury and most recently injuring my right knee. I am afraid to travel and feel like I will not be able to travel without my husband. He has become attuned to my sleep patterns and wakes me when I start winding up.

    My family practice doctor diagnosed me with dementia a few months ago. She administered a cognitive test on paper and I had a total panic attack, especially when I saw the math. I have since taken the SAGE test from the Ohio State University Neurology Department. I had no problems with this test.

    Recently, I saw a neurologist who specializes in sleep issue and he gave me the diagnosis of REM sleep behavior disorder. He prescribed clonazepam, which I am not excited to take. Melatonin seemed to make my nightmares worse and more frequent. For the last three nights, I have taken Somno-Pro with L-Theanine, 5-HTP and a small amount of melatonin. Hoping this will be helpful for a calm night of sleep. My mattress is on the floor and the nightstand has been removed from my side of the bed.

    I do use a C-PAP machine. I wonder if there is one that exists that would detect my extreme movements in REM sleep and could give a stimulation to wake me up. This would help my husband to get a better night sleep as well.

    Slowly I am learning about this sleep disorder, but I am afraid I will be seriously injured before I get help. This article has been so helpful. I did not realize about the muscle paralysis during REM sleep. That makes the clonazepam more palatable to me.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Sally
      Thanks for your comment. I’m happy to hear the article and comments were useful! I can understand your concern – it sounds like you’ve really been through it with the injuries. I can also understand your worry about Clonazepam. I guess it’s up to you to weigh up the pros and cons of trying it with the potential impact of continuing as you are now. But again, perhaps the other approaches you’re trying will help. You could try setting yourself a time limit with those, and if they don’t help, give the clonazepam a trial period too.
      I don’t know of a cpap machine that does what you’re thinking. But it did make me think of a couple of anti-snoring devices I’ve heard of that detect noise, and then tug your pillow or adjust the bed to stir you out of it. Whether they would have an effect on someone who isn’t snoring, but is behaving unusually though, I really don’t know. Perhaps it’s something to explore if you have time.

      • Thanks for your reply Ethan. I have a friend who lives in Colorado and saw an interview recently on the Denver news with a women who is participating in a study and using a C-PAP combined with a stimulus to react to the REM sleep disorder issues. She is investigating this for me. There are some very good research articles imbedded in this site. Lots to cogitate upon.

  • I had a particular incident when I woke up on my stairs cutting myself with a wooden hanger. I had night terrors and have walked and talked in my sleep since childhood. I have woken to find myself walking around. Where my actions created the dream. So I know it wasn’t sleepwalking. But an rbd incident. No isolated incidences with me. But the one sleep study i had was a normal sleep pattern event. As they say . only problems until you go to check a problem out. I should keep a journal. Anyway that’s my story so far.

    • Hi Kelly
      Thanks for your comment. That must have been very disturbing for you to wake up harming yourself. What support were you offered from your doctor or sleep specialist when you saw them? It’s unfortunate that sleep problems aren’t repeated in labs sometimes. But keeping a journal is definitely a good idea. I think it’s important to consider the advice about making sure your house is a safe as possible at night, though it’s of course difficult to completely eliminate all sources of harm, as you found out with the hangar. But it’s still good to make more extreme articles like knives harder to access at night.

  • This all started from the year 2014, i only got to know i am a sleep screamer when my roomies told me about it. It concerned me..because probably 2 to 4 times in each months i wake them up with my loud screaming and absurd behavior during night…but i don’t understand what happens to me, i can’t note why i m screaming when i get back to my sense. Since past month situation got worsen . i started jumping out of my bed with loud scream or i shiver till i hold what happen there. I felt really shame for this..Please help me in this matter . Thank you

    • Hi Debasmita
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your worry, but unfortunately there’s not much I can personally do to help you. You should speak to your doctor first if you feel you need some professional advice and help.

  • I had never even considered that something i “dealt” with could actually be tied to a sleep disorder. My current boyfriend has made a point to notify me that I kick him in my sleep (not every night but enough that its semi-regular) but i 99% of the time never wake myself up from it or catch myself doing it. Hes also mentioned me flailing/hitting in my sleep but very much less regular than my apparent go to kicking. I have a hand full of times woken myself up by sleep talking (even going back several years ago) and i also used to experience some sort of sleep hallucination? Where I’d somehow all of a sudden out of a deep sleep become half awake and immediately see black tendrils and other obscure forms (which of course would make me panic) and id shoot out of my bed and turn on the light and as soon as the lighr turns on i become groggily aware of my actions (this happened semi-regularly throught years of my life but have not happened in recent times. If any of this sounds more than possible that i could be suffering from RBD please notify me.

    • I had just taken the time to read through your other articles and i feel like i have a better understanding of my sleep hallucinations, the one classified as “waking up” hallucinations and i do think they are triggered personally by stress. For sleep talking i feel like i at least noticed me starting to do it in my early teen years (i am now 21) which im concerned about because it was warned that it COULD be a symptom of a brain disease if it originates in adulthood without previously being shown in childhood. But my biggest concern is with my kicking/thrashing. I never recall doing it when i wake in the morning and like i previously mentioned, its aggressive and frequent enough to hurt my significant other to the point that he was initially confused as to why i was attacking him at night. I do believe ive had others mention this to me, but no one really gets the full swing of it until they are sleeping next to you every single night so therefore it was never a big red flag to me until now.

    • Hi Katlynne
      Thanks for your comment. It’s impossible to say from your comment, and not my position to say, whether it’s this sleep disorder or not – only a doctor or sleep specialist can really do that. What I would say though is that some of your symptoms can also be explained by other things. The hallucinations are very common when falling asleep or waking up. If you haven’t already read it, I recommend taking a look at this article about sleep hallucinations. And the occasional kicking out could also be what’s known as hypnic jerks. Distinguishing between them would to a large extent depend on the frequency and severity. It’s common for people to jolt a little in their sleep, or move about more vigorously sometimes. But for that to be bad enough to be classified as a sleep disorder would take a professional assessment.

  • Hi for around 7 years I’ve acted out dreams, normally elbowing or hitting boyfriend on the back, it normally to do with him cheating on me (he hasn’t)
    It got worse with pregnancy and I now worry about it more as I have a baby 3 months old. It actually happened last night a day I accidentally elbowed my baby, I woke instantly and said to my husband I’ve elbowed her by accident during one of those dreams. (it wasn’t hard)
    I am now petrified to continue bed sharing and will make an appointment with my GP. I feel sick to my stomach with worry about it being REM disorder as I have family history of parkinson’s and dementia. I am a young female in my 30s.

    Is there anything else that could be causing this? Obviously with a new baby their could be sleep deprivation, stress, anxiety, (I don’t feel stress but understand the body can be under stress) I am breastfeeding and had what I feel was a traumatic pregnancy, birth and labour.
    I need to continue bedsharing for the time being as I am breastfeeding but I don’t want our baby coming to any harm. It’s been around 6 months since I last acted out a dream I think. Although I did have nightmares while in hospital having baby thinking I’d left her somewhere, lost her etc and I’d bolt up from them sweating in a panic.

    I’m going to make an appointment with my gp. To my knowledge and my husbands the only one I act out is elbowing him when he’s been cheating or lying to me in a dream.

    I don’t think a sleep study would pick up anything as they can be infrequent.

    • Hi EG
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your concern and fears. Fortunately it’s only infrequent, as you say. But I can understand your worry as it’s not just the frequency that’s important but also the potential severity. I think speaking to your GP is very wise, as would be thinking about whether it’s absolutely essential to bed share until you do get their advice.

  • I am male , 68 years oldin good health, and in the last few years I seem to fit into a lot of what I have read in your articles. I have roared , punched ( my poor wife unfortunately ) kicked, luckily she has not been hurt. I have jumped out of bed several times . The problem also is for a few seconds I wake up and say what has made me jump or lash out , but I go back to sleep almost immediately and rarely remember anything about it. I have been advised I have Type 2 diabetes but I control it without any medication. My blood sugars rarely go above 7 on the scale. I don’t drink much and mainly only at the weekends. I had no alcohol at all for a few months but it makes no difference one way or the other.
    I was on statins for a few yearsup to about 18 months ago, to control my cholesterol and had some bad reactions to them. Lipitor gave me dreadful nightmares and I then went on to Enigy. I had a bad physical reaction which knocked for six for a few weeks , but fully recovered. The RBD problem started about 3 years ago and I wonder is there any connection between the two !
    There are a lot of reports about side effects to statins published.
    Your comments and replies are very interesting and enlightning !

    • Hi Ciaran
      Thanks for your comment. I’ve seen reports of some statins being linked with increased insomnia and nightmares, but not specifically this sleep disorder. Have you spoken to your primary care doctor about this at any point to get their opinion?

  • I just dreamt about an occurring dream I have over and over again, but it’s very short. It starts at where I’m riding a bike then I crash. When I crash the bike I jolt back and wake myself up. I was sleeping in my bed and I was fighting a bad guy so then I punched in real life and punched someone. I don’t know if this is really serious as I don’t do it often but I do do it. I want to know if it’s fine and I don’t need any help from the doctor or anything.

    • Hi Mila
      Thanks for your comment. It’s quite common for people to wake with a jolt, and that doesn’t necessarily mean you have this sleep disorder. Punching someone in your sleep could be more of a clue, but if it happens very rarely, it might not be seen as such a problem. Even if a doctor wouldn’t recommend any treatment, it can still be helpful to talk it over with them if it’s worrying you.

  • So , I had been having this problem of shouting , talking and sometimes kind of aggressive talking​ in sleep. Many of my family members saw me talking in sleep or sometimes sitting with open eyes talking unconsciously. Please help me , I really need help. I’d be very thankful if someone helps me. 🙁

    • Hi Gurbachan
      Thanks for your comment. There’s not much I can do to help other than suggest trying the techniques in this article, and also in the article about sleep talking. But really, if it’s a bad problem, as well as self-help it’s probably good to talk to your doctor about it.

  • I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s two years ago and have the added bonus of REM Sleep Disorder as well.

    The most memorable dream involved me being a Battle of Britain pilot trapped in my burning Spitfire and trying desperately to open the canopy to bail out as well as contend with the flames burning my legs. Eventually I freed the canopy, jumped out of my plane and fell…. I pulled the ripcord to free my parachute and it was at this point I woke up on the floor with one leg caught in the devet and with my bemused girlfriend looking down at me and saying “What the bloody hell was all that about?”

    She said she had laid there listening to me talking and could remember me saying “Bandits…. three o’clock low, Tally Ho!”, my dialogue after then was incomprehensible for a few minutes until I screamed “I’m hit! I’m hit”, at this point my actions became quite physical with me alternating between frantically punching the headboard of the bed and smacking my legs repeatedly. Then, before she could stop me, I jumped out of bed taking the duvet with me!

    This is one of the more humourous episodes. Other dreams are either quite violent and involve a lot of punching and swearing or terrifying, for example I have looked down at my arm and screamed out loud because it is writhing with maggots.

    I have now started to sleepwalk, one night I flew out of bed, running across the room shouting “I’m going to take you out, you f****** ****!” before swinging a punch and falling into an open wardrobe – at which point I woke up.

    My poor girlfriend has been punched, kicked, sworn at and even serenaded – apparently one night I decided to launch into a rendition of Manhattan Transfer’s “Chanson D’Amour”.

    In light of all this, I have sought help from my Consultant who confirmed it was REM Behavioural Sleep Disorder and prescribed Clonazepam. I would urge anyone having these sorts of vivid dreams to speak to their GP as the sleep walking was a wake up call to the dangers of this condition. Whilst it can be unintentionally amusing at times, it can also be terrifying for both the sufferer and their spouse.

    • Hi Steve
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience and thoughts so openly. Has the medication helped you so far? I’d be interested to know what positive and/or negative effect it has.

  • So hear I am on the sofa as I’ve just been woken by my husband acting out sex in his sleep, shouting and then tried to pin me down till I eventually woke him. Last night he was shouting and bouncing on the side of the bed. I’ve been punched, kneed, dragged down on the floor to safety and has to jump out the bed because I stole his pointy stone. All sounds hilarious but not in the dead of night in the dark and someone twice your size is acting out these dreams. The sex one is the most common at the moment. It’s crazy!!!! My husband is in the forces so worried if he’s diagnosed with anything it will cost him his job. He jumps out of bed and marches a lot too. Help!!!!! What can I do? I spend more time on the sofa than I do in bed lately.

    • Hi Sarah
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your worry – both about your safety and sleep, and his job. I don’t think it’s hilarious at all – it sounds very scary, and must make it hard to relax and sleep properly.
      I think sleeping in separate beds until it’s sorted – hopefully – is a wise idea. There’s nothing wrong with having intimate time together in one bed before sleeping and when waking, but doing the actual sleeping part separately. I quite often do that with my partner because I’m such a light sleeper.
      Can he go to a private sleep clinic and ask to speak to a sleep specialist about it? If that’s possible, it could be an option – to at least get an idea for what help is available.

  • One dream I used to have almost every month was I was in a supermarket but couldn’t find anything on the shelves I wanted. Other people were walking around with shopping trolleys full of groceries but I couldn’t find a thing to buy. Some people even had things in their trolleys that were on my list, but I couldn’t find them.

  • For many years, about thirty, I have experienced very vivid dreams. Some examples are: –

    This was just after my granddaughter had been chased by a dog. I was in the same field and we were being chased by a tiger cub. I thought the only way to get away would be to turn around and kick it. I did this only to wake up with a broken little toe. In lashing out at the tiger cub I kicked the radiator on the wall.

    In another dream, it was a cat doing its business in my garden. This time I kicked a brick wall because I was in a chalet on holiday. Needless to say, it almost ruined the holiday because I broke my big toe, other foot.

    Last night, in the dream, I was very annoyed that someone had allowed on of my granddaughters to drive a car on the road. She is only 4 years old. I ended up screaming at this person, who I didn’t really know, “what are you doing letting a child drive a f*****g car on the f*****g road. Are you some f*****g mental case”? At this point my wife came running into the bedroom to find out what all the shouting was about. I had, by this time, woken myself up by shouting.

    There was one, years ago, were I woke up and my pillow was soaking wet. I had just had a dream were my best friend had been killed in a motorcycle accident and I had been crying.

    On many occasions, I have been known to twitch and kick my legs whilst asleep.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Martin
      Thanks for your comment. I think if you’ve injured yourself in your sleep as you say you did, then it’s good to talk to a professional about it. Perhaps you can get a sleep study done, and then receive appropriate advice and treatment options.

  • I’ve been dealing with this since I can first remember being 16 years old and I’m 31 now. I’ve had Depression throughout most of my life and Anxiety and PTSD starting at 16 yo, 26 yo, and PPD 30 yo which I believe contribute to a lot of my episodes, however so many episodes are not directly connected to my other mental disorders as listed. I’ve had light-severe cases of acting out my dreams, my most extreme case was driving to work at 2am. Something woke me up and when I looked at the clock, I “saw” 6:43am and since I work at 7am, I rushed out the door, got in my car and started driving, again looking at the clock and seeing 6:51am. I made it all the way to work (including having driven on the freeway) and got a red light as I was right next to my work, looked over noticing nobody was there yet, I looked at my clock again and it read 1:58 am. I realized what had happened, drove home got inside and my mom and sister were still awake talking. I asked if they saw me leave and they said they did but thought I forgot to bring something to work for our potluck that I had mentioned and was running to the store to get something. They were mortified when they heard what had actually happened. I have also rearranged furniture in my bedroom because I was certain there was a baseball game that people needed to play and my bed was right in the way. I was always told growing up that I would talk in my sleep and in my early adolescence (while sharing a room with my little sister) that I would sit up and start laughing. It scared her so much that eventually my parents decided to switch my little sister into her own room and put my older sister in with me. Now being married, I don’t act out as frequently but will often have nightmares where I will start thrashing about and start screaming. My husband will shake me awake but will be horrified. So would this NOT be RBD SINCE I deal with these of mental disorders or no? I couldn’t imagine I wouldn’t have it since I had early issues with acting out before my mental disorders occured. However, they are so infrequent that a sleep study would have to wait months or even a year to get an episode from me again..

    • Hi Chelsea
      Thanks for your comment. It’s possible to have this sleep disorder and any number of mental health conditions too – they aren’t mutually exclusive. So I wouldn’t rule it out considering your symptoms. I can understand what you mean about the sleep study needing luck to catch you in the act, so to speak. But they might be able to detect irregularities with your sleep, even if you’re not aware of it being one of the more dramatic events you describe. It’s worth talking over with your doctor anyway.

  • Leave a comment:

    Your email address will not be published.

    Thanks for your comment! Don't worry if it doesn't appear right away. All comments are held for moderation, and will appear when I have a chance to read them, which can take a few days. But I can promise that I read all comments unless they contain numerous links, in which case I recommend writing again with maximum 1 link. Thanks again. Ethan