Nightmare disorder and REM sleep behavior disorder in inflammatory arthritis: Possibility beyond neurodegeneration

Luca Baldelli, Olga Addimanda, Marco Burattini, Giacomo Chiaro, Veronica Brusi, Elettra Pignotti, Riccardo Meliconi, Federica Provini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: To investigate the prevalence of REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) in patients with inflammatory arthritis (IA) to ascertain if RBD could be an internal red flag signaling a fluctuating state of inflammation based on the theory of "protoconsciousness".

MATERIALS & METHODS: One hundred and three patients with a confirmed diagnosis of IA were consecutively recruited. The patients underwent general (IA activity, functional status, laboratory tests) and neurological evaluations. A neurologist investigated RBD and REM sleep parasomnias in a semi-structured interview. Sleep quality was assessed with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, while the risk of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) was evaluated with the Berlin questionnaire. Beck Depression Inventory II and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory investigated depression and anxiety.

RESULTS: Patients had a mean age of 53.7 ± 14.6 years, 65% were women; 57.3% were in a clinically active phase of IA. Two women fulfilled ICSD-3 criteria for RBD appearing 11 years after and 20 years before IA onset respectively. 31 patients scored positive for nightmare disorder (ND), 8 for recurrent isolated sleep paralysis. 65 (63.1%) patients reported poor sleep quality and 25 (24.3%) resulted at high risk for OSAS. 32 (31.0%) patients scored positively for depression or anxiety.

CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of RBD in patients with IA did not differ from that in the general population, whereas ND presented a 2-fold increased prevalence. Whether RBD can be considered a red flag signaling an internal danger remains an open question, while ND may be a new player in this intriguing relation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBrain and Behavior
Issue number3
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Mar 2019


  • Inflammatory arthritis
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Nightmares
  • Prevalence
  • RBD
  • Sleep

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Nightmare disorder and REM sleep behavior disorder in inflammatory arthritis: Possibility beyond neurodegeneration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this