Many couples love sleeping in the same bed. Sometimes if one of them develops a sleep disorder such as snoring, the other may choose to sleep separately. One reader has a more serious problem, but she does not want to sleep apart. What can be done to help her husband’s unusual sleep disorder?
What Will Help REM Sleep Behavior Disorder?
Q. My husband was recently diagnosed with REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD). This was after he punched me while we were sleeping. He had been dreaming and lashed out.
The sleep expert recommended melatonin. Can something so simple really help?
Will Melatonin Help?
A. RBD is a serious sleep disorder. Instead of having limp muscles during rapid eye movement (REM) dreaming sleep, patients may flail, punch or kick. They become a danger to themselves and their bed partners when they act out scary dreams.
Some doctors prescribe clonazepam (Klonopin) for this condition, but side effects such as dizziness, unsteadiness and confusion can be troublesome. You can read what we have written about this medication here.
Melatonin is a natural hormone made by the pineal gland in the brain. It regulates the sleep wake cycle. While not a cure for his sleep disorder, it may be helpful in keeping your husband from hitting you when he is dreaming (Sleep Medicine, Jan. 2015).