I’m tired this morning. The lingering affects of my nightmares stays with me.
One of the characteristics of Frontotemporal dementia is sleep disturbances. In addition to this I have been diagnosed with REM sleep behavioural disorder. This “… is a disorder in which you physically act out vivid, often unpleasant dreams with vocal sounds and sudden, often violent arm and leg movements during REM sleep.”
Normally you don’t move during REM sleep. About 20 % of your sleep is spent in REM sleep, the usual time for dreaming, which occurs primarily during the second half of the night. (Mayo Clinic)
REM sleep behaviour disorder often may be associated with other neurological conditions such as Lewy body dementia, Parkinson’s disease or multiple system atrophy.
I have had this disorder for about four years; that means prior to my diagnosis of Frontemporal dementia (FTD).
The other distinct characteristic of this is that you usually remember the nightmare(s) unlike many dreams.
Although I had a diagnosis, I choose not to take any suggested medications to help the symptoms. About a year ago, that changed as my nightmares were more frequent and frightening.
My doctor put me on 0.5MG of Clonazepam. Yes, medication from the “pam family.” Clonazepam often used to treat anxiety is also the traditional choice for treating REM sleep behaviour disorder.
However, in people with FTD, benzodiazepines have been associated with an increase in behavioural challenges and impair both memory and pschomotor skills. Use can result in reduced inhibition and impaired judgement. Simply put Clonazepam should be avoided.
I’m sure you can see the conundrum. To take or not to take. That is the question!
My daily medication is taken via a blister-pack. The clonazepam is not included in it. Every night as I take my blister-pack medication, I have to also open up the pill bottle for it.
Last night I choose not to take it. This is the second time this week. Why not? I keep hoping to take less medication. I keep thinking maybe I don’t need to take it anymore. But I’m promptly reminded why I do need to take it. Without it comes the nightmares. Terrible nightmares.
Although clonazepam is not suggested for people with dementia, I’ve made a choice to include the orange pill in my daily medication. Without it, the monsters come out and I can be heared yelling “Help me….”
Mary Beth Wighton is a blogger living with Frontotemporal dementia. If you want to subsribe to her blog or get in touch with her for any reason, send her an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Blogger and dementia advocate