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Keywords:

  • REM sleep disorder;
  • polysomnography;
  • clonazepam;
  • hallucination;
  • Parkinson's disease

Abstract

To clarify whether visual hallucinations in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) are related to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, nocturnal polysomnographic variables were compared between a group with hallucinations (hallucinators, n = 14) and a group without hallucinations (nonhallucinators, n = 8). A multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) was performed on 3 hallucinators, and the content of dreams during daytime REM sleep was investigated. The efficacy of clonazepam, a standard treatment choice for REM sleep behavior disorders, was investigated in 8 hallucinators. Nocturnal polysomnograms of the hallucinators showed a higher amount of stage 1–REM sleep with tonic electromyogram (stage 1–REM) than the nonhallucinators, and the reported occurrences of nocturnal hallucinations corresponded with the periods of stage REM or stage 1–REM in most hallucinators. The frequency of sleep onset REM periods (SOREMP) on the MSLT were pathologically high in the hallucinators, and the content of the dreams during the MSLT period was quite similar to their hallucinations. During clonazepam treatment, the frequency of hallucinatory symptoms decreased in 5 of 8 hallucinators. These results indicate that visual hallucinations in PD are likely to be related to a REM sleep disorder manifested as the appearance of both stage 1–REM during the night and SOREMP in the daytime. © 2003 Movement Disorder Society