WEDNESDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- Smoking and exposure to pesticides are two factors that could raise the risk for a rare disorder that causes people to sometimes kick, punch or otherwise move about while asleep, a new study suggests.
REM sleep involves vivid dreams and, for most individuals, no movement other than breathing and the namesake rapid eye movement. However, with REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), people act out their dreams in various ways, such as talking, jerking, kicking or getting out of bed and running around.
This often happens at the peril of themselves and the people with whom they share their bed, but experts say one of the biggest concerns with RBD is that it can be an early sign of a serious neurodegenerative disorder, such as Parkinson's disease or a type of dementia related to Parkinson's called dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).
To identify possible risk factors for developing RBD, researchers asked people at sleep clinics around the world about their diet, lifestyle and medical and educational backgrounds. They found that people with RBD were more likely than people who did not have RBD to smoke cigarettes, have pesticide exposure and have suffered a head injury.
The study, which was published online June 27 in the journal Neurology, represents the first look at RBD risk factors.
"The only thing we knew was that patients tend to be men and that they tend to be older," said study author Dr. Ron Postuma, associate professor of neurology at McGill University in Montreal. Knowing more about RBD risk factors will improve the understanding of Parkinson's and DLB, he added.
Shelby Freedman Harris, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, said this study is a great start.
"There will be more studies coming out looking at risk factors,
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