Caring burden of REM sleep behavior disorder - spouses' health and marital relationship

Sleep Med. 2016 Aug;24:40-43. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2016.08.004. Epub 2016 Aug 24.


Objectives: Idiopathic REM sleep behavior disorder (iRBD) is noxious due to the high prevalence of sleep-related injuries to patients and their bed-partners. In this study, we aimed to investigate the impact of patients' RBD symptoms on their spouses, in terms of the quality of sleep, and physical, mental and marital aspects.

Method: A cross-sectional study comparing spouses of iRBD patients to the spouses of the age-and-sex-matched OSAS patients.

Results: 40 iRBD patients and their spouses (patients' age 66.6 ± 9.1, male 90%; spouses' age 62.9 ± 7.5), and 35 OSAS patients and their spouses (patients' age 67.8 ± 8.7 years old, male 80%; spouses' age 64.1 ± 9.1) were recruited. Almost all iRBD spouses (90%) reported disturbances by the nocturnal RBD behavioral symptoms of their bedpartners. About two-thirds (62.5%, N = 25) of the iRBD spouses reported a history of being injured during sleep. Spouses of both iRBD and OSAS patients reported a comparably high prevalence of insomnia, anxiety and depressive symptoms. Spouses of iRBD patients, however, reported more impaired quality of life and marital relationship. Nearly two-thirds of RBD couples continued co-sleeping, despite the risk of sleep-related injuries and nocturnal disturbances.

Conclusions: Both iRBD and OSAS spouses exhibited a high prevalence of insomnia and mood problems. In particular, iRBD significantly and negatively affect the spouses' quality of life and the marital relationship. Optimization of iRBD treatment, proper diagnosis, and management of sleep and mental health aspects of spouses may help to lessen the caring burden.

Keywords: Caring burden, Sleep-related injuries; Marital relationship; RBD; REM sleep behavior disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • REM Sleep Behavior Disorder / epidemiology*
  • REM Sleep Behavior Disorder / psychology
  • Spouses / psychology*