LOS ANGELES - It is a violent sleep disorder that usually affects men over 50, but that’s not always the case. And the end result is scary beyond belief.
In their sleep, it’s as if the world has turned into a violent one. One that never goes away. Almost like Jeckyl and Hyde.
“One time he did try to strangle me, but he thought someone was trying to strangle me.”
The secret many keep hidden: they become violent during sleep, hurting themselves or others.
“Quit it, get the hell out of here.”
Mel Abel was a calm man during the day. At night, that changed. In this sleep lab video, he is shown suffering from RBD, a violent sleep disorder. It became so bad he wanted to die. One night he nearly strangled his wife, while dreaming he had shot a dear, and to finish off the dear he wanted to snap its neck. And in reality he was snapping his wife’s neck and she woke up screaming just in the nick of time.
These patients are documented in these books and the movie “Sleep Runners” by Dr. Carlos Schenck, the man who co-discovered RBD.
“It is violent moving nightmares. It is what happens during sleep and they end up hurting themselves or bed partners.”
The dream world crashes into reality. The very first time this women had an RBD episode, she battered her own face so badly it ended up looking like this, but while she hurt herself, in the documentary it is clear most of the time, it’s others at risk.
“He began pummeling me, kicking me violently.”
“I don’t remember the dreams, no.”
Rowena Pope said it was crazy. Her husband was so peaceful during the day, at night so different. She thought because he was a war veteran may have had post traumatic stress disorder. She was wrong.
“I just kept thinking something awful has happened to him to be so violent.”
This man believes he is a samurai warrior protecting someone, but the doctor says he could have easily gotten up to get a knife.
“They devise there own contraptions, like using dog leashes. One man tethered himself to a bed with a rope.”
These patients are desperate not to hurt themselves or others.
Patients with RBD contain superhuman strength. They can leap far from bed. The grip strength on their spouses is extraordinary. They can roar like wounded animals, their shouting and screaming is so loud it can almost puncture their eardrums.
Marv Olsen thought he was being shot through a canon, ran out of bed, through two panes of glass, jumping out the window.
Tom Fletcher hurt his partner.
“I punched my wife, and I don’t mean one time. It was a lot. No idea that I had done it.”
RBD can be triggered by some anti-depressants. Medication can control the abnormal dreaming and behavior, but in 81 percent of patients at the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorder Center, RBD has shown to lead to something else.
The first manifestation of Parkinson’s disease, a classic neurological disease, can be RBD: Abnormal Dream Enactioning Disorder.
Most sufferers don’t remember their dreams or what happened. Parasomnias RBD is so bad, many stop wanting to live, but those who come for help have the ability to stop the violence so their dreams stop being nightmares.
If you notice you are falling out of bed at night, hurting yourself during the night, and seem to be acting out your dreams, you may have RBD and need to seek medical attention.