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Health Fusion: Acting out your dreams could signal a serious condition

Most of your dreams happen in REM sleep. You're body is still, and you mind is active. But if you have REM behavior disorder (RBD), you act out your dreams, which can be violent and vivid. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams talks to someone who has this disorder. And she hears from a neurologist who, with a team of experts around the nation, started a new study to research the condition because it is associated with other diseases, such as Dementia with Lewy Bodies and Parkinson's disease.

Dr. Michael Howell , a University of Minnesota neurologist, specializes in sleep disorders.

"REM behavior disorder is a fascinating condition that gives us a window of what's happening in the brain during sleep," says Howell. "The disease is common and it becomes more common as we get older. We're studying it because people who have RDB are at high risk to go on to develop Parkinson's disease and other related diseases. "

Howell adds that RBD often shows up 10 to 15 years before symptoms of the other diseases are apparent.

"The NAPS study was started so we could get a baseline understanding of what is going on in patients' brains and to watch them over time," says Howell. "Our ultimate goal is to develop a cure for Parkinson's disease and related diseases."

Ray Merrell, an RBD patient, is passionate about being an advocate for people with the disease and is enrolled in the NAPS study. He describes what it's like to have the disorder.

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"I would have very vivid dreams and I would act them out," says Merrill. "Some of them are rather bizarre. I'd be running away from something or fighting something. I'd punch in the air or I'd find myself on the floor."

Merrill says, one time, he even dented the wall with his head after jumping out of bed.

Watch or listen as Howell and Merrill discuss RBD and the NAPS study.

If you're interested in learning more abotu or participating in the NAPS study, check out the website .

Follow the Health Fusion podcast on Apple , Spotify , and Google Podcasts.

For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at vwilliams@newsmd.com . Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

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