Two main states make up normal sleep: non-rapid eye movement and rapid eye movement sleep. Rapid eye movement sleep, also known as REM sleep, is the point during which rapid eye movements occur, blood pressure rises, the muscles are paralyzed, and breathing is irregular. This is also the portion of sleep where an individual dreams. The brain's recorded electrical activity tends to be similar to the activity recorded when an individual is awake. When a patient has REM sleep behavior disorder, they lack the paralysis that usually occurs in REM sleep. This absent or incomplete paralysis causes the patient to sleepwalk, talk, and otherwise act out their dreams.
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Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that can occur alongside REM sleep behavior disorder and increase an individual's risk of developing it as well. Narcoleptic patients experience hallucinations, excessive sleepiness, sleep paralysis, and sometimes cataplexy. Cataplexy occurs when there is a total or partial loss of muscular control, and episodes are often brought on by strong emotions like laughter. Narcolepsy symptoms first appear in adolescence or childhood, but many patients don't get a proper diagnosis until they've had symptoms for years. The condition causes the boundary between sleeping and wakefulness to become blurred. In one study of fifty-five patients with narcolepsy, twenty had symptoms characteristic of REM sleep behavior disorder, which equates to about thirty-six percent. Though REM sleep behavior disorder is most commonly found in older men, the study indicated narcoleptic males and females are equally likely to have it. The study implies there's a significant link between the two disorders.
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