Phenomenology of dreams in Parkinson's disease

Mov Disord. 2007 Jan 15;22(2):198-202. doi: 10.1002/mds.21255.


Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD) occurs in approximately one third of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) and is associated with a loss of muscle atonia during REM sleep and aggressive dream content. We examined the dream characteristics of PD patients to determine whether dream content differed between patients with RBD and without RBD, men and women with RBD, and men and women with PD. One hundred-twenty patients with a diagnosis of idiopathic PD were consecutively recruited from a movement disorders clinic and were assessed for RBD using clinical diagnostic criteria of the International Classification of Sleep Disorders Revised (2001). Verbatim dream content was obtained from each patient and categorized into dream themes that were coded into nominal categories. Fisher's exact tests determined whether particular dreams were correlated with RBD versus non-RBD, men and women with RBD, and men and women with PD. RBD patients had a higher percentage of violent dreams compared to non-RBD patients. There were no significant sex differences in the dream content of RBD patients. Men with PD had more aggressive dreams compared to females with PD. Aggressive dream content was characteristic of RBD patients and sex differences exist in the dream content of the PD population.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antiparkinson Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Dreams / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Levodopa / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy
  • Parkinson Disease / epidemiology
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Semantics*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology
  • Sleep, REM / physiology*


  • Antiparkinson Agents
  • Levodopa