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Old 08-06-2022, 12:15 PM
 
Location: equator
9,923 posts, read 4,888,444 times
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Does anyone have experience or knowledge about this? I looked up the Mayo Clinic and other articles on it, but am looking for personal experience. There doesn´t seem to be much to do about it, other than one drug (Clonopin, I think) with bad side effects.

DH has developed this in the past year or so (most common in men over 50). Starts with twitching or mumbling in bed, which wouldn´t be so bad, but now I know it will escalate into full blown thrashing or even jumping out of bed which scares me. Couple times he has grabbed me and he´s jumped out of bed and fallen a couple times. He remembers his vivid dreams and says a monster is chasing him, just like when he was a child with bad dreams.

We only have one bed, so he´s sleeping on the couch now which is no fun for him or me. Not as comfortable as the bed, of course.

This is a really unpleasant turn in our marriage. The worst part is, according to Mayo, this can be one of the first signs of dementia, as the brain is not ¨turning off¨ during REM like it´s supposed to. Both his parents developed dementia, so I am really apprehensive.

No sleep clinics where we live, but since I already know what he has, doesn´t seem useful anyway.

Thanks for any input.
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Old 08-06-2022, 03:06 PM
 
2,143 posts, read 2,110,509 times
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Unfortunately I do have experience with this.

The first time it happened with my now-deceased significant other (SO for short), he did the screaming, thrashing, fighting thing. He grabbed for my throat but got my pinkie finger instead as I leaped from the bed, dislocating the finger. When I asked him about it, he said he had terrible nightmares and saw someone standing at the end of the bed who was going to kill him. In his mind, he was fighting for his life. He spent the rest of that night and all subsequent nights of our ultimately 5-year relationship sleeping in the guest room. When we traveled we always got two beds but we didn't travel until he was successfully on medication for it.

I later learned from his kids that he'd done this with his ex-wife and nearly strangled her to death. We met in our 60's and were only together for a few months when this first occurred.

I didn't wait for a second time and hustled him off to the sleep doctor for a sleep study where he was diagnosed with REM sleep disorder. You're right that it can be connected to dementia, although at the time neither of us knew what was coming down the road. His dad had become "peculiar" as he got older and did some thoughtless, impetuous things that the family just thought were "just dad/grandpa". I never knew his parents so I have no firsthand knowledge. Anyway, the sleep doctor told us to put furniture in front of windows so he wouldn't/couldn't jump out as REM patients have been known to do that, and do not keep knives or guns or anything that could be turned into a weapon in the house. Cooking implements, including cooking forks, skewers, ice picks, etc., fell into that category. The doctor also suggested alarms on doors and windows or some kind of barricade. Do you have a balcony on your condo? I'd be really concerned about that, although I don't have any ideas on what to do about it, except to make certain he can't get out there during the night.

SO was put on Klonopin which did help to a point. However, he did have breakthrough moments when he, for example, broke the entire bed frame of the guest room bed with his acting out. Time for a dosage change, which the doctor did and which helped.

As you've probably read, REM sleep disorder can be a part of or precursor to Lewy Body Dementia, Parkinson's Disease, and in my SO's case, Frontotemporal Dementia. Is there any doctor in your area who can help you with this? I realize there are limitations where you live, but is there a bigger city nearby where you could get some help? Believe me, you can't handle this on your own.

I wish I had better news but unfortunately I don't. It's just finding the management tools that keep both of you safe. I wish you all the best with this. It can be a real challenge, as you're sadly finding out.
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Old 08-06-2022, 04:12 PM
 
123 posts, read 59,764 times
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I'd like to mention my own experience in this area in the hope that it may add to a data base of information about the condition.

I had a few bouts of 'breaking out of a dream' in which I became physical about 25 years ago. I find that when I dream, I'm unable to assert any physical strength in those dreams. I float about and levitate sometimes, but cannot exert any physical strength during those dreams.

On at least three separate occasions, I have had dreams in which three people were attacking my wife. My desire in my dreams was to attack all three but I lacked the strength to do so. Somehow it took an effort to 'break out of the dreams' and wake up physically throwing a punch at the attackers. On two occasions, I missed my wife's head by inches.

On another occasion, I dreamed that I was being attacked by giant animals or something. Somehow, I physically changed from a supine sleep position and leapt clean out of the bed, landing on all fours on the carpet next to my side of the bed. There's no way I could repeat that last procedure if I was conscious.

As I said, that was about 25 years ago. It was a time when my wife and I were working at a University, and she became the target of the most unjust psychological treatment I've ever seen meted out by three bosses, in spite of the fact that she was the best and most conscientious worker I've ever seen.

I've had no more of those physical 'sleep outbreaks' since we both retired from that Institution.

I think I can rule out dementia in my case because I wold have had about a dozen peer-reviewed papers published at that time. FWIW.
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Old 08-06-2022, 05:35 PM
 
4,827 posts, read 2,540,003 times
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Walking, talking and fighting in your sleep runs on my dad’s side of the family. He had it his entire life until his senior years, I had it as a kid and now only when under a lot of stress and the same for my brother. None of us have dementia.
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Old 08-07-2022, 04:29 AM
 
Location: The Driftless Area, WI
5,961 posts, read 3,183,213 times
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Our sleep patterns change as we age from infancy to senility....Older folks tend to wake up in between our 1.5-2.5 hr sleep cycles and then fall back asleep, often with some difficulty...Different parts of our brain also fall asleep/wake up at different rates, so physically acting out dreams may be apparent for some of us. Observers are only aware of the more violent episodes-- you wouldn't notice a dream where the guy is enjoyng a poetry reading, for instance.

Most "sleepng pills" now are in the class benzodiazapines (same as Valium) and don't really make us sleep, but affect our memories so we don't remember not sleeping well (as opposwed to the older, less used barbiturates which knock you out)...The benzo's are cleared more slowly by the elderly, so may present some problems when used regularly. ...The proof is in the pudding-- They're worth a try. They're not miracle drugs.

I'm not familiar with the data, but would guess that these episodes are related to aging, and dementia is related to aging, so bad dreams and dementia aren't really related to each other except indirectly.
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Old 08-07-2022, 12:00 PM
 
Location: equator
9,923 posts, read 4,888,444 times
Reputation: 23023
Quote:
Originally Posted by movinon View Post
Unfortunately I do have experience with this.

The first time it happened with my now-deceased significant other (SO for short), he did the screaming, thrashing, fighting thing. He grabbed for my throat but got my pinkie finger instead as I leaped from the bed, dislocating the finger. When I asked him about it, he said he had terrible nightmares and saw someone standing at the end of the bed who was going to kill him. In his mind, he was fighting for his life. He spent the rest of that night and all subsequent nights of our ultimately 5-year relationship sleeping in the guest room. When we traveled we always got two beds but we didn't travel until he was successfully on medication for it.

I later learned from his kids that he'd done this with his ex-wife and nearly strangled her to death. We met in our 60's and were only together for a few months when this first occurred.

I didn't wait for a second time and hustled him off to the sleep doctor for a sleep study where he was diagnosed with REM sleep disorder. You're right that it can be connected to dementia, although at the time neither of us knew what was coming down the road. His dad had become "peculiar" as he got older and did some thoughtless, impetuous things that the family just thought were "just dad/grandpa". I never knew his parents so I have no firsthand knowledge. Anyway, the sleep doctor told us to put furniture in front of windows so he wouldn't/couldn't jump out as REM patients have been known to do that, and do not keep knives or guns or anything that could be turned into a weapon in the house. Cooking implements, including cooking forks, skewers, ice picks, etc., fell into that category. The doctor also suggested alarms on doors and windows or some kind of barricade. Do you have a balcony on your condo? I'd be really concerned about that, although I don't have any ideas on what to do about it, except to make certain he can't get out there during the night.

SO was put on Klonopin which did help to a point. However, he did have breakthrough moments when he, for example, broke the entire bed frame of the guest room bed with his acting out. Time for a dosage change, which the doctor did and which helped.

As you've probably read, REM sleep disorder can be a part of or precursor to Lewy Body Dementia, Parkinson's Disease, and in my SO's case, Frontotemporal Dementia. Is there any doctor in your area who can help you with this? I realize there are limitations where you live, but is there a bigger city nearby where you could get some help? Believe me, you can't handle this on your own.

I wish I had better news but unfortunately I don't. It's just finding the management tools that keep both of you safe. I wish you all the best with this. It can be a real challenge, as you're sadly finding out.
Thanks for this description and your alarming story. Wow, this is sobering. It hasn't gotten as bad as you describe, yet. I am just scared to death over this progressing. I wonder if a GP could prescribe the Clonopin. So far, DH is not willing to go on a med for it. Mayo said sometimes melatonin will work. Did you try that? We used to take it for sleep but it wasn't effective, so I have my doubts.

Geez, this aging thing is becoming a bigger challenge than we can handle. Yikes.
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Old 08-07-2022, 12:08 PM
 
Location: equator
9,923 posts, read 4,888,444 times
Reputation: 23023
Quote:
Originally Posted by guidoLaMoto View Post
Our sleep patterns change as we age from infancy to senility....Older folks tend to wake up in between our 1.5-2.5 hr sleep cycles and then fall back asleep, often with some difficulty...Different parts of our brain also fall asleep/wake up at different rates, so physically acting out dreams may be apparent for some of us. Observers are only aware of the more violent episodes-- you wouldn't notice a dream where the guy is enjoyng a poetry reading, for instance.

Most "sleepng pills" now are in the class benzodiazapines (same as Valium) and don't really make us sleep, but affect our memories so we don't remember not sleeping well (as opposwed to the older, less used barbiturates which knock you out)...The benzo's are cleared more slowly by the elderly, so may present some problems when used regularly. ...The proof is in the pudding-- They're worth a try. They're not miracle drugs.

I'm not familiar with the data, but would guess that these episodes are related to aging, and dementia is related to aging, so bad dreams and dementia aren't really related to each other except indirectly.
Thanks, Guido. You always have good info. We've never taken sleeping pills but I hear about Ambien being so effective. Is that not the case?

Although, I am doubtful we can get any of these kind of drugs here. But I will look into it.
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Old 08-07-2022, 12:10 PM
 
Location: equator
9,923 posts, read 4,888,444 times
Reputation: 23023
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teacher Terry View Post
Walking, talking and fighting in your sleep runs on my dad’s side of the family. He had it his entire life until his senior years, I had it as a kid and now only when under a lot of stress and the same for my brother. None of us have dementia.
Thanks, Terry. What did your family do about these episodes, if anything? All his life, that's scary.
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Old 08-07-2022, 12:15 PM
 
Location: equator
9,923 posts, read 4,888,444 times
Reputation: 23023
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doogles31731 View Post
I'd like to mention my own experience in this area in the hope that it may add to a data base of information about the condition.

I had a few bouts of 'breaking out of a dream' in which I became physical about 25 years ago. I find that when I dream, I'm unable to assert any physical strength in those dreams. I float about and levitate sometimes, but cannot exert any physical strength during those dreams.

On at least three separate occasions, I have had dreams in which three people were attacking my wife. My desire in my dreams was to attack all three but I lacked the strength to do so. Somehow it took an effort to 'break out of the dreams' and wake up physically throwing a punch at the attackers. On two occasions, I missed my wife's head by inches.

On another occasion, I dreamed that I was being attacked by giant animals or something. Somehow, I physically changed from a supine sleep position and leapt clean out of the bed, landing on all fours on the carpet next to my side of the bed. There's no way I could repeat that last procedure if I was conscious.

As I said, that was about 25 years ago. It was a time when my wife and I were working at a University, and she became the target of the most unjust psychological treatment I've ever seen meted out by three bosses, in spite of the fact that she was the best and most conscientious worker I've ever seen.

I've had no more of those physical 'sleep outbreaks' since we both retired from that Institution.

I think I can rule out dementia in my case because I wold have had about a dozen peer-reviewed papers published at that time. FWIW.
Thanks, Doogle. That's quite a story. Stress can create such havoc. We're retired so not sure what stress he's having. He always says it's monsters chasing him.

My ex had just one episode where he smashed the beside table. He was a martial arts guy. But it never happened again, like with you.

Oh man, sigh.
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Old 08-07-2022, 02:13 PM
 
2,143 posts, read 2,110,509 times
Reputation: 5179
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sand&Salt View Post
Thanks for this description and your alarming story. Wow, this is sobering. It hasn't gotten as bad as you describe, yet. I am just scared to death over this progressing. I wonder if a GP could prescribe the Clonopin. So far, DH is not willing to go on a med for it. Mayo said sometimes melatonin will work. Did you try that? We used to take it for sleep but it wasn't effective, so I have my doubts.

Geez, this aging thing is becoming a bigger challenge than we can handle. Yikes.
No, we didn't try melatonin but just went straight for the doctor's prescription for Klonopin. SO was very sensitive to meds so we didn't want to experiment with anything that wasn't doctor approved.

Hopefully your GP can help you with this. The worrisome thing is that this could escalate quickly and all of a sudden it's too late. SO's sleep doctor told us case stories (anonymous of course) of patients who had actually jumped out of windows, off balconies, and caused all kinds of mayhem including physical injury to their bedmates or housemates. I hope your DH realizes the potential magnitude of the problem and that it could have a terrible outcome for either or both of you. In any case, a frank discussion with your GP is a good place to start.

EDITED to add: I mentioned in my previous post that my SO is deceased. I just want to clarify that he did not pass from anything REM sleep disorder-related. His cause of death was complications from Frontemporal Dementia.

Last edited by movinon; 08-07-2022 at 02:24 PM..
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