Imagine you’re having a vivid dream of something chasing you. You’re running and leaping across buildings, going all over the place, but what keeps your body from actually acting out these movements during REM sleep?
Scientists have found the mechanism that keeps our muscles paralyzed, and they say that understanding could be an opportunity to finding treatments for sleep conditions and disorders like REM sleep behavior disorder. REM sleep behavior disorder occurs when people act out their dreams, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Researchers did a study on rats and found that there are two separate chemical systems that seem to be at play in helping the body stay paralyzed during REM sleep. Researchers found that when they blocked both the metabotropic GABAB receptors and the GABAA/glycine ionotropic receptors, the rats moved when they should have been still during REM sleep.
This new study is published in the Journal of Neuroscience and the researchers also noted that REM sleep disorder may be a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease, so curing it may help prevent or even stop their development
A study published earlier this year in the journal Annals of Neurology showed that people with REM sleep behavior disorder may have a doubled risk of developing mild cognitive impairment or Parkinson’s disease, with the increased risk being in the first four years of being diagnosed with the disorder.