Anxiety, along with other related conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and the side effects of antidepressant treatment, as well, might cause a violent sleep disorder, according to a new study. Also known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder, violent sleep disorder is causing people to kick and yell while they are in REM sleeping phase.
REM sleep is known as the dream state of the sleep cycle, and during this stage, the brain sends signals to the muscles to prevent them from moving. Violent sleep disorder is making people yell, flail their arms, punch or kick so that they can harm themselves or their sleep partner.
“While much is still unknown about REM sleep behavior disorder, it can be caused by medications, or it may be an early sign of another neurologic condition like Parkinson’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies or multiple system atrophy,” explained Ronald Postuma at the McGill University in Canada.
Anxiety Might Cause Violent Sleep Disorder
In their study, researchers from McGill University in Canada analyzed more than 30,097 people with an average age of 63. Out of them, about 1,000 participants presented symptoms of violent sleep disorder, after the scientists excluded other conditions such as Parkinson’s diseases, sleep apnea, and Alzheimer’s disease.
While the leading cause for the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder was found to be anxiety, about 13% of those with a violent sleep disorder were consuming antidepressants. Even more, people with this sleep disorder have 2.5 times higher risks of developing post-traumatic stress disorder and are also exposed to developing mental illness, according to the study’s results.
“Our hope is that our findings will help guide future research, especially because REM sleep behavior disorder is such a strong sign of future neuro-degenerative disease,” concluded Ronald Postuma who is the study’s leading author.