What can I do to prevent violent vivid dreams?

This question was asked in Columbus, Indiana on 09/10/2012.
Why do I act out my dreams while I sleep? If my dream is violent, I can act out very violently like hitting, punching and kicking. I have actually kicked my wife.

Doctors Answers (3)

Richard J. Schumann Jr., MD
Answered on: 9/13/2012

You may suffer from nightmares or a more serious condition like REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder in which the spouse or the person having the disorder can be seriously injured. It occurs in associated with Parkinsons and other neuro-degenerative disorders. It should be diagnosed by a sleep professional in a lab and you should be evaluated for the disorder as soon as possible. You may have to get an EEG and an MRI of the brain to make sure you don't have seizures as well. Once diagnosed, it can be treated very effectively by the use of Medication like Klonopin or even Melatonin.

Terry M. Himes, DO
Answered on: 9/13/2012

Typically this is diagnosed as a REM Stage disorder. I highly recommend you contact our or a local Sleep Center, and see a Specialist for evaluation. They will most likely recommend a diagnostic sleep study. This behavior situation can be treated once it diagnosed medically.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 9/13/2012

Acting out your dreams is generally termed "REM Behavior Disorder" as they usually occur during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. Dream enactment may also occur during Non REM sleep which is a different sleep disorder. A sleep specialist is best consulted to differentiate the two disorders. During REM sleep our body is paralyzed (except, of course, for our muscles of respiration AND our eye muscles which move rapidly from side to side or up and down). For unknown reasons, some persons lose the ability for their body to be paralyzed during REM sleep and this allows them to act out their dreams. This condition is much more common in men than in women. It may be associated with the use of alcohol but also occurs with the use of certain antidepressant medications and some neurological disorders such as Parkinson's Disease. You have no control over these events and it takes a very understanding spouse to remain sleeping in the same bed with you. The good news is that treatment for both REM and Non REM dream enactment is available and is usually very effective.