40 Facts about Sleep

13 01 2009

I happened across the following through a link in the twittersphere from Perry Belcher. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Perry, and thanks to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for publishing it.

40 FACTS ABOUT SLEEP YOU PROBABLY DIDN’T KNOW…(OR WERE TOO TIRED TO THINK ABOUT)

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REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD) – Discovery

12 01 2009

Okay, I know you’re not supposed to self-diagnose. But about five years ago, my dreams became very active … or rather my body became very active while I was dreaming. No more “atonia” that keeps the body from moving during dreams.

The RBD has become more severe over time. One night, I dove out of bed, hit my chin on a side table, nearly broke my jaw, and bit through my tongue. A few times, I have hit my wife, hit the wall, kicked items that were left too near the bed, and recently I scared off a room full of folks at a hostel when I sat up and yelled incoherently in the middle of the night. So, time to do something about it.

I originally associated my active dreaming with Qigong. I started studying medical Qigong with Dr. Hong Liu, and during an advanced workshop, we learned eventually to drop the conscious control of our body movements, instead allowing the qi to flow through us and move us in ways that balanced and healed us. Master Hong warned that we had to stay grounded, and that many people who  entered into advanced states of  Qigong  displayed signs of mental illness. Was active dreaming a result of this?

Another thought … it was delayed reaction to PTSD residue from my time in the jungles of Vietnam.

I did a quick bit of research on the Internet, and now almost wish I hadn’t. Scientific American says that RBD has a high correlation to early signs of Alzheimer’s, which my mother and great grandmother both had. There is also a good chance that RBD is an early symptom of Parkinson’s, and is usually associated with brain stem deterioration. One thing it isn’t — it is not a psychological problem.

Anyway, I’ll try to blog a bit about what is happening. For starters, I have an appointment with my GP, and I’m going to ask him for a referral to a sleep clinic. I also have a new bed that makes restless sleep less disturbing to my partner.

And no jokes about RLS. This is Restless Body Syndrome, and perhaps restless brain syndrome. Maybe some L-dopa will do the trick. And almost time for the days to start getting lighter … lots of exercise in the saddle of my bike coming up. I’ll start putting in 400-500 miles a month soon. That will oxygenate my brain cells!