Risk factors

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Factors associated with the development of REM sleep behavior disorder include:

  • Being male and over 50 years old — however, more women are now being diagnosed with the disorder, especially under age 50, and young adults and children can develop the disorder, usually in association with narcolepsy, antidepressant use or brain stem tumors
  • Having a certain type of neurodegenerative disorder, such as Parkinson's disease, multiple system atrophy or dementia with Lewy bodies — in fact, REM sleep behavior disorder can be the first indication of future development of a neurodegenerative disease
  • Having a chronic sleep disorder characterized by overwhelming daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep (narcolepsy)
  • Taking certain medications, especially newer antidepressants, or the use or withdrawal of drugs or alcohol

Recent evidence has suggested that there may also be several specific environmental or personal risk factors for REM sleep behavior disorder, including occupational pesticide exposure, farming, previous head injury or smoking.

July 11, 2014