Friday, March 05, 2010

New Research on REM (Rapid Eye Movement)

Some of my readers may recall that I suffer from Nightmare Disorder. It is an exceedingly rare, unpleasant sleep disorder which results in vivid, cruel nightmares that drag on all night. I've had it for as long as I can remember.

Athough Nightmare Disorder is not depression or anxiety, a mild anti-anxiety drug (Celexa), when taken at night, has been able to reduce it somewhat. Never the less, it remains there, lurking in the back of my subconscious, desperate to rear its ugly head whenever possible.

However, new research on REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep gives me some hope. Studies show that those of us who experience extended periods of REM are more prone to depression, vivid nightmares, and a negative outlook in the morning. Well, let's face it - if you faced Freddy Krueger every night, wouldn't you be a bit crabby in the mornings also?

So researchers agree that the way to combat such a problem is to reduce REM sleep, which goes contrary to what many of us learned in the psychology classes of the 1980s and early 90s when we were told all we needed was more REM. And, recent studies prove that these researchers are correct.

So, how do you reduce REM?

In sleep study labs, people who are woken up each time they go into REM sleep report less depression when they rise in the morning. But, this is hardly practical in everyday living. However some of the things that we can do to reduce REM are:

1. Have a little wine before bed
2. Up our intake of L-Tryptophan (small amounts are found in turkey and milk, but in order to reap the benefits, supplements are recommended)
3. Antidepressants of certain types
4. Any combination of the above

Of course it's not a license to become a wino or a pill popper. Instead, as with everything, moderation is the key.

But finally, there is hope.


Ed said...

I had to take a drug for a week a long time ago with a side effect of causing vivid dreams. It got to the point where I was just planning on staying up the rest of the week to avoid going to sleep. I can empathize what you go through.

Scott said...

I had no idea you suffered from this. I hope that some or all of these are able to give you some relief.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Ed, Yeah - there have been some times that I've stayed up late, putting off the inevitable. But as I've grown older, I've also grown resigned to it. I've had some particularly awful ones this week, though.

Scott, Thank you so much. I started L-Tryptophan last night and although I don't much like the taste of alcohol, I'll probably start swigging back 1/2 a glass of wine occasionally. I find it tastes better if it's mixed 1/2 and 1/2 with diet Sprite. Every wine purist out there is going to wince after hearing that. (In my defense, until recently, our ancestors drank wine mixed with water.) ;o)

Uncle Joe said...

I don't remember knowing this, but I'm not exactly playing with a full deck lately. ha.

I've often thought our youngest might have this disorder.

Three Score and Ten or more said...

At my age I know that I am not going to remember the dream for more than fifteen minutes anyway, so what the heck. I am at the stage where my biggest irritation about dreams is when I dream a movie (Not one that anyone has ever seen) and wake up before the ending. I may mutter about the fact that I don't know how it ends for even sixteen or seventeen minutes, then it all goes down the toilet (or whatever mental disposals old coots use)

Eshuneutics said...

This sounds disturbing. I did not know about this aspect of REM. Take care.