Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behaviour disorder (RBD) is a parasomnia that is characterized by loss of muscle atonia during REM sleep (known as REM sleep without atonia, or RSWA) and abnormal behaviours occurring during REM sleep, often as dream enactments that can cause injury. RBD is categorized as either idiopathic RBD or symptomatic (also known as secondary) RBD; the latter is associated with antidepressant use or with neurological diseases, especially α-synucleinopathies (such as Parkinson disease, dementia with Lewy bodies and multiple system atrophy) but also narcolepsy type 1. A clinical history of dream enactment or complex motor behaviours together with the presence of muscle activity during REM sleep confirmed by video polysomnography are mandatory for a definite RBD diagnosis. Management involves clonazepam and/or melatonin and counselling and aims to suppress unpleasant dreams and behaviours and improve bedpartner quality of life. RSWA and RBD are now recognized as manifestations of an α-synucleinopathy; most older adults with idiopathic RBD will eventually develop an overt neurodegenerative syndrome. In the future, studies will likely evaluate neuroprotective therapies in patients with idiopathic RBD to prevent or delay α-synucleinopathy-related motor and cognitive decline.
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