A Man Who Kicked, Punched And Attempted To Choke His Wife While Asleep Was Just Dreaming

Photo by Borja Sanchez-Trillo/Getty Images

This is the story of a sleeping 70-year-old man who kicked, punched and attempted to choke his wife while asleep.

He also frequently fell out of bed and leapt into wardrobes and onto bedside tables.

The patient was diagnosed with REM behaviour disorder, a condition which can later develop into one of several related neurological conditions including Parkinson’s disease.

The strange case is reported in the Medical Journal of Australia by a team led by Dr Richard Weeks, psychiatrist at the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health.

The 70-year-old married man endured seven to eight years of worsening sleep disturbances, causing injury to himself and his wife.

An overnight sleep study revealed abnormal motor activity during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and increased muscle tone, leading to a diagnosis of REM behaviour disorder (RBD).

The disorder occurs predominantly in men aged over 50 years and is characterised by abnormal, usually violent behaviour which follows dream patterns.

RBD itself can often be treated successfully with relatively low doses of clonazepam, a sedative. However, up to 65% of patients later develop one of several related neurological conditions including Parkinson’s disease.

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