Story-like organization of REM-dreams in patients with narcolepsy-cataplexy

Brain Res Bull. 2008 Oct 22;77(4):206-13. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2008.07.012. Epub 2008 Aug 26.


Narcolepsy with cataplexy (NC) is a neurological disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and an altered architecture of sleep. Previous laboratory studies have shown that frightening, bizarre and visually vivid contents are more frequent in dream experiences developed during the first period of REM sleep by NC patients than healthy subjects. As the structural organization of dream experiences of NC patients has not been yet examined, we compared its indicators in dream reports collected from a sample of NC patients and their matched controls. During an experimental night two awakenings were provoked after 8min of REM sleep in the first and third sleep cycle. Dream reports were analyzed using the rules of story grammars, capable of identifying units larger than single contents and describing their story-like organization. While dream recall (about 85%) was comparable in NC patients and controls, 1st-REM dream reports were longer in NC patients. Statistical analyses on the 12 NC patients and their matched controls who reported dreams after both REM periods showed that dream experiences occurring in 1st-REM reports of NC patients were longer and had a more complex organization than those of controls. These findings suggest that the cognitive processes underlying dream generation reach their optimal functioning earlier in the night in NC patients than in normal subjects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Dreams*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Narcolepsy*
  • Narration
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Polysomnography
  • Psychometrics
  • Sleep Stages
  • Sleep, REM*
  • Time Factors