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Neurology. 2000 Jul 25;55(2):281-8.

Hallucinations, REM sleep, and Parkinson's disease: a medical hypothesis.

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  • 1Centre d'Investigation Clinique, Fédération de Neurologie and INSERM U 289.



Patients with PD can have disabling visual hallucinations associated with dopaminergic therapy. Sleep disorders, including vivid dreams and REM sleep with motor behaviors (RBD), are frequent in these patients.


The association of hallucinations and REM sleep both at night and during the day was examined in 10 consecutive nondemented patients with long-standing levodopa-responsive PD and hallucinations. Seven patients presented with paranoia and paranoid delusions. Overnight sleep recordings and standard multiple daytime sleep latency test were performed. The results were compared to those of 10 similar patients with PD not experiencing hallucinations.


RBD was detected in all 10 patients with hallucinations and in six without. Although nighttime sleep conditions were similar in both groups, hallucinators tended to be sleepier during the day. Delusions following nighttime REM period and daytime REM onsets were observed in three and eight of the hallucinators, and zero and two of the others. Daytime hallucinations, coincident with REM sleep intrusions during periods of wakefulness, were reported only by hallucinators. Postmortem examination of the brain of one patient showed numerous Lewy bodies in neurons of the subcoeruleus nucleus, a region that is involved in REM sleep control.


The visual hallucinations that coincide with daytime episodes of REM sleep in patients who also experience post-REM delusions at night may be dream imagery. Psychosis in patients with PD may therefore reflect a narcolepsy-like REM sleep disorder.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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