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Study objectivesREM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is a parasomnia in which normal muscle atonia of REM sleep is lost. The aim of this study was to confirm if diagnostic delay exists in RBD and identify any contributing factors.MethodsA database was compiled of 49 patients with RBD seen at a tertiary referral center from 2005 to 2011 by retrospective review of referral letters and polysomnographic (PSG) reports. Patients with comorbid narcolepsy were excluded. A questionnaire was sent to investigate diagnostic delay, management, and comorbidities.ResultsMean diagnostic delay was 8.7 ± 11 (median 4.5, IQR 1.75-11.75) years in 30 questionnaire responders. Common reasons for diagnostic delay included belief that symptoms were not serious enough to consult a doctor (59%), mild or infrequent occurrence of sleep behavior (56%), belief that symptoms may resolve (47%), and lack of knowledge of treatment options (47%). The bed partner was an important influence, with the decision to seek medical attention being made jointly by the patient and partner in 47%.ConclusionsThis study has demonstrated the existence of significant diagnostic delay in RBD, mainly due to lack of understanding of the disorder and its treatment by patients and members of the medical profession.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Publication Date





133 - 136


Department of Sleep Medicine, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.


Humans, REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, Polysomnography, Retrospective Studies, Life Style, Sleep, REM, Time Factors, Adult, Middle Aged, Female, Male, Delayed Diagnosis, Surveys and Questionnaires