Advertisement
Icon WebMD Expert Blogs

Sleep Well

with Michael Breus, PhD, ABSM

This blog has now been retired. We appreciate all of the insights that Dr. Breus has provided to the WebMD community.

Important:

The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, review, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have... Expand

The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, reviews, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. User-generated content areas are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD User-generated content as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Hide

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Violent Behavior while Asleep?

A recent commenter asks:

“As a mental health counselor in Fl., I have a client who during her sleepwalking does destructive things such as: turning on the burners on the stove, kicking in a louvered door, throwing a pitcher of iced tea on the floor. It is my understanding it is rather unusual that sleepwalkers do such harmful activities. Are there other reports of this?”

My answer:

First of all it is great that you are asking questions about sleep, much less sleepwalking in your patients. And yes you are certainly correct, most sleepwalkers rarely do any violent behaviors.

That being said there are several factors I would consider for this type of patient. First, I would want them to have a sleep study to determine whether or not they are actually sleep walking or if they have a situation called REM behavior disorder.

The difference is that in REM behavior disorder people usually are acting out their dreams (which can be violent). To distinguish between the two there are several symptoms to be aware of:

  1. Is this behavior happening in the later 1/3 of the evening ( where REM is more likely to occur); and,
  2. Does the behavior correspond to their dreams?

Either way a sleep study is needed for several reasons. Sleepwalking can be kicked off by any number of other sleep disorders (Apnea, insomnia, sleep deprivation, Narcolepsy, etc.) . There is now an entire body of literature looking at sleep-related violence.

The good news is that these behaviors are often treated with medication (Klonipin and some tricyclic anti-depressants) . Many of those with REM behavior disorder are thought to eventually develop Parkinson’s, and if caught early the treatments are more effective.

Related Topics: The Risky Toll of Sleep Loss, Sleepy Teens

Technorati Tags: , ,

Posted by: Michael Breus, PhD, ABSM at 2:47 pm

Comments

Leave a comment

Subscribe & Stay Informed

Sleep Well

Stop tossing and turning. Get the latest diet and exercise tips, treatments and research about better sleep from WebMD.

Archives

WebMD Health News