REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is usually characterized by
potentially injurious dream enactment behaviors (DEB). RBD treatment aims to
reduce DEBs and prevent injury, but outcomes require further elucidation. We
surveyed RBD patients to describe longitudinal treatment outcomes with
melatonin and clonazepam.
We surveyed and reviewed records of consecutive RBD patients seen at
Mayo Clinic between 2008–2010 to describe RBD-related injury
frequency/severity as well as RBD Visual Analog Scale (VAS) ratings,
medication dosage, and side effects. Statistical analyses were performed
with appropriate non-parametric matched pairs tests before and after
treatment, and with comparative group analyses for continuous and
categorical variables between treatment groups. The primary outcome
variables were RBD VAS ratings and injury frequency.
Forty-five (84.9%) of 53 respondent surveys were analyzed.
Mean age was 65.8 years and 35 (77.8%) patients were men.
Neurodegenerative disorders were seen in 24 (53%) patients, and 25
(56%) received antidepressants. Twenty-five patients received
melatonin, 18 received clonazepam, and 2 received both as initial treatment.
Before treatment, 27 patients (60%) reported an RBD associated
injury. Median dosages were melatonin 6 mg and clonazepam 0.5 mg. RBD VAS
ratings were significantly improved following both treatments
Melatonin-treated patients reported significantly reduced injuries
(pm=.001, pc=.06) and fewer
adverse effects (p=0.07). Mean durations of treatment were no
different between groups (for clonazepam 53.9 +/− 29.5
months, and for melatonin 27.4 +/− 24 months,
p=0.13) and there were no differences in treatment retention, with
28% of melatonin and 22% of clonazepam-treated patients
discontinuing treatment (p=0.43).
Melatonin and clonazepam were each reported to reduce RBD behaviors
and injuries and appeared comparably effective in our naturalistic practice
experience. Melatonin-treated patients reported less frequent adverse
effects than those treated with clonazepam. More effective treatments that
would eliminate injury potential and evidence-based treatment outcomes from
prospective clinical trials for RBD are needed.