Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine say a new study shows how a treatment commonly used for insomnia may help soothe a potentially violent sleep disorder in which patients unconsciously act out their dreams. Photo by Claudio Scott/Pixabay
May 26 (UPI) — Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine say a new study shows how a treatment commonly used for insomnia may help soothe a potentially violent sleep disorder in which patients unconsciously act out their dreams while they sleep.
The study on the use of the sleep medication dual orexin receptor antagonist for rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder was published Thursday in the Journal of Neuroscience.
The receptor antagonists work by blocking orexin, a neuropeptide or chemical messenger in the brain that helps the body stay awake.
Mount Sinai researchers call the study the first published data on a treatment for rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep behavior disorder. The researchers said this affects more than 3 million Americans, mostly adults over age 50.
It leads victims to physically express their dreams with vocal sounds or sudden, violent arm and leg movements during sleep, potentially causing significant injury to themselves or their bed partners.
Researchers said the condition appears to develop because of neurodegeneration when brain cells lose function over time, and also associated with the buildup of tau protein.
The study authors found that after administering a dual orexin receptor antagonist twice over a 24-hour period, to evaluate sleep in light and dark phases, they noted that the medication not only reduced the time it took to fall asleep to fall, but also the quality and duration increased. of sleep, but also reduced levels of dream performance.
“We expected to find a disturbance in sleep quality with progressive neurodegeneration related to tau accumulation, but the observation of dream performance was a surprise,” said lead author Korey Kam, an assistant professor of medicine at Icahn Mount Sinai.
“It was even more surprising and exciting to see that a dual orexin receptor antagonist could significantly minimize the dream-execution behavior.”
The Mount Sinai researchers said they hope the findings will lead to future trials of dual orexin receptor antagonists to treat REM sleep behavior disorder in humans, as the medication is already FDA-approved and available to treat people with insomnia.