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Keywords:

  • dream recall;
  • dream-enacted behaviour;
  • non-dreamer;
  • rapid eye movement sleep;
  • rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder

Summary

To determine whether non-dreamers do not produce dreams or do not recall them, subjects were identified with no dream recall with dreamlike behaviours during rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder, which is typically characterised by dream-enacting behaviours congruent with sleep mentation. All consecutive patients with idiopathic rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder or rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder associated with Parkinson's disease who underwent a video-polysomnography were interviewed regarding the presence or absence of dream recall, retrospectively or upon spontaneous arousals. The patients with no dream recall for at least 10 years, and never-ever recallers were compared with dream recallers with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder regarding their clinical, cognitive and sleep features. Of the 289 patients with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder, eight (2.8%) patients had no dream recall, including four (1.4%) patients who had never ever recalled dreams, and four patients who had no dream recall for 10–56 years. All non-recallers exhibited, daily or almost nightly, several complex, scenic and dreamlike behaviours and speeches, which were also observed during rapid eye movement sleep on video-polysomnography (arguing, fighting and speaking). They did not recall a dream following sudden awakenings from rapid eye movement sleep. These eight non-recallers with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder did not differ in terms of cognition, clinical, treatment or sleep measures from the 17 dreamers with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder matched for age, sex and disease. The scenic dreamlike behaviours reported and observed during rapid eye movement sleep in the rare non-recallers with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder (even in the never-ever recallers) provide strong evidence that non-recallers produce dreams, but do not recall them. Rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder provides a new model to evaluate cognitive processing during dreaming and subsequent recall.