Rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder in women with Parkinson’s disease is an underdiagnosed entity

Published:January 04, 2016DOI:


      • Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is common in Parkinson’s disease (PD).
      • Women with PD and RBD have less aggressive dream enacting behaviour.
      • Anxiety and depression is more common.


      Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is common in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Little information exists about RBD in women with PD. The aim of this study was to determine the clinical expression of RBD in women with PD and note any differences in women with PD with and without RBD. One hundred fifty-six patients with PD were recruited. There were 37 women with PD and probable RBD was diagnosed using the RBD Screening Questionnaire. Other scales included Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, Parkinson’s Disease Sleep Scale, Epworth Sleep Scale, Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale and Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. Probable RBD was diagnosed in 10 women with PD (27%). Most often (70%) RBD occurred after the onset of parkinsonian symptoms. Women with probable RBD were older, had shorter duration of PD symptoms, lower tremor score, and higher axial signs score. They had insomnia (80% versus non-probable RBD patients 44%, p = 0.019), and poor sleep quality with excessive daytime sleepiness. Anxiety and depression were common in women with probable RBD. Episodes were brief and confined to vocalization and simple limb movements. No injury to self or bed partners was noted. Women with PD have fewer fights and less aggressive dream enacting behaviour than men, but suffer from significant disturbed sleep, and levels of anxiety and depression.


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