Prevalence and determinants of rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder in the general population

Sleep. 2018 Feb 1;41(2):zsx197. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsx197.


Study objectives: Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is a parasomnia associated with neurodegenerative synucleinopathies. Its prevalence is largely unknown. This study determined the prevalence and characteristics of RBD in the general population using gold-standard polysomnography.

Methods: Full polysomnographic data from 1,997 participants (age = 59 ± 11.1 years, 53.6% women) participating in a population-based study (HypnoLaus, Lausanne, Switzerland) were collected. Sleep-related complaints and habits were investigated using various sleep measures including the Munich Parasomnia Screening (MUPS) questionnaire, which includes two questions evaluating complex motor behaviors suggestive of RBD. Full polysomnography was performed at home. For participants screening positive for RBD, muscle activity during REM sleep was quantified to diagnose RBD.

Results: Three hundred sixty-eight participants endorsed dream-enactment behavior on either of the two MUPS questions, and 21 fulfilled polysomnographic criteria for RBD, resulting in an estimated prevalence of 1.06% (95% CI = 0.61-1.50), with no difference between men and women. Compared with RBD- participants, RBD+ took more frequently antidepressants and antipsychotics (23.8% vs. 5.4%, p = .005; 14.3% vs. 1.5%, p = .004, respectively) and were more frequently smokers or ex-smokers (85% vs. 56.6%, p = .011). On polysomnography, RBD+ had more stage N2 sleep (52 ± 11.5% vs. 46.3 ± 10.2%, p = .024) and less REM sleep (18 ± 6.4% vs. 21.9 ± 6.2%, p = .007), lower apnea-hypopnea index in REM sleep (3.8 ± 5.2 vs. 8.9 ± 13/hour, p = .035), and lower autonomic arousal index (31 ± 14.9 vs. 42.6 ± 19.5/hour, p = .002).

Conclusions: In our middle-to-older age population-based sample, the prevalence of RBD was 1.06%, with no difference between men and women. RBD was associated with antidepressant and antipsychotic use and with minor differences in sleep structure.

Keywords: REM sleep without atonia; parasomnia; polysomnography; sleep; synucleinopathies.