Mr Sandman

Fact: You could kill someone in your sleep.

For most of us, dreams are just dreams.But for those with REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder (RBD), they can be much more real.

Random Eye Movement (REM) is the stage of sleep in which we dream, and it is accompanied by temporary muscle paralysis. In RBD, this muscle paralysis doesn’t work – leaving the dreamer free to act out their dreams in real life.

Normally these actions are harmless, or even mildly entertaining: think of those Youtube videos of dogs running into walls while dreaming they are in sunny meadows. But, if the dreams are violent the actions can also be violent, and there have even been cases of ‘sleepwalking murder’. Crucially though, it is believed that sexual actions do not happen under the banner of RBD, so it cannot be used as a defence in rape trials.

So you could be doing anything while you think you’re lying in bed. You can’t even relax while you’re asleep anymore.

‘Another one of Mr Shaunak’s Little Bites of Science’
Image under Creative Commons license

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