Sleep 2017 Mar;40(3)
Neurology Service and Multidisciplinary Sleep Unit, Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, Barcelona 08036, Spain.
Study Objectives: To describe a group of patients referred because of abnormal sleep behaviors that were suggestive of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD) in whom video-polysomnography ruled out RBD and showed the reported behaviors associated with vigorous periodic limb movements during sleep (PLMS).
Aims And Methods: Clinical history and video-polysomnography review of patients identified during routine visits in a sleep center.
Results: Patients were 15 men and 2 women with a median age of 66 (range: 48-77) years. Reported sleep behaviors were kicking (n = 17), punching (n = 16), gesticulating (n = 8), falling out of bed (n = 5), assaulting the bed partner (n = 2), talking (n = 15), and shouting (n = 10). Behaviors resulted in injuries in 3 bed partners and 1 patient. Twelve (70.6%) patients were not aware of displaying abnormal sleep behaviors that were only noticed by their bed partners. Ten (58.8%) patients recalled unpleasant dreams such as being attacked or chased. Video-polysomnography showed (1) frequent and vigorous stereotyped PLMS involving the lower limbs, upper limbs, and trunk (median PLMS index 61.2; median PLMS index in NREM sleep 61.9; during REM sleep only 8 patients had PLMS and their median PLMS index in REM sleep was 39.5); (2) abnormal behaviors (e.g., punching, groaning) during some of the arousals that immediately followed PLMS in NREM sleep; and (3) ruled out RBD and other sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea. Dopaminergic agents were prescribed in 14 out of the 17 patients and resulted in improvement of abnormal sleep behaviors and unpleasant dreams in all of them. After dopaminergic treatment, follow-up video-polysomnography in 7 patients showed a decrease in the median PLMS index from baseline (108.9 vs. 19.2, p = .002) and absence of abnormal behaviors during the arousals.
Conclusions: Abnormal sleep behaviors and unpleasant dreams simulating RBD symptomatology may occur in patients with severe PLMS. In these cases, video-polysomnography ruled out RBD and identified prominent PLMS followed by arousals containing abnormal behaviors. Our cases represent an objectively documented subtype of periodic limb movement disorder causing abnormal sleep behaviors.