Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

To diagnose your condition, your doctor will review your medical history and your symptoms. Your evaluation may include tests such as:

  • Physical and neurological exam. Your doctor will conduct a physical and neurological exam and evaluate you for REM sleep behavior disorder and other sleep disorders. REM sleep behavior disorder may have symptoms similar to other sleep disorders, or it may coexist with other sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea or narcolepsy.
  • Nocturnal sleep study (polysomnogram). Doctors may evaluate your condition during an overnight study in a sleep laboratory. During this test, sensors monitor your heart, lung and brain activity, breathing patterns, arm and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels while you sleep. You also will be videotaped to document your behavior during REM sleep cycles.

Diagnostic criteria

To diagnose REM sleep movement behavior disorder, sleep medicine physicians typically use the symptom criteria in the International Classification of Sleep Disorders — Third Edition (ICSD-3).

For a diagnosis of REM sleep behavior disorder, criteria include the following:

  • You have repeated times of arousal during sleep where you talk, make noises or perform complex motor behaviors, such as punching, kicking or running movements that often parallel the content of your dreams
  • You recall dreams associated with these movements or sounds
  • If you awaken during the episode, you are alert and not confused or disoriented
  • A sleep study shows you have increased muscle activity during REM sleep
  • Your sleep disturbance is not caused by another sleep disturbance, a mental disorder, medication or substance abuse
Jul. 11, 2014

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