Dream-enacting behaviour is common in healthy young adults, says a study by Canadian researchers.
The study appearing in the Dec.1 issue of the journal Sleep also discovered that the occurrence of specific behaviours varies in men and women.
According to the report, nearly 98 percent of the participants (486/495) said they had experienced one of seven subtypes of dream-enacting behaviour at least "rarely" in the last year.
"Fear" was the commonest behaviour subtype, with about 93percent reporting fear signs in their body after waking up from a scary dream. Almost 78percent reported they woken up feeling sexually aroused after an erotic dream. Seventy-Two percent had awakened smiling or laughing after a happy dream.
All other four behaviour subtypes were reported by over half the volunteers: They woke up from a dream to find themselves talking, crying, in an angry state or even punching or kicking or waving or pointing. Female participants reported more speaking, crying, fear and smiling/laughing than men, and males reported more sexual arousal.
Tore Nielsen, lead author and co-investigator and professor of psychiatry at the Universiti de Montreal in Canada, pointed out that more research had to be done to differentiate between normal dream-enacting behaviour and actions related to REM sleep behaviour disorder (RBD), which is characterized by abnormal behaviours arising during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep that often lead to injury or sleep disruption.
Nielsen said: "Normal episodes are usually extremely mild, for example, briefly jerking an arm or leg while waking up from a nightmare, once or twice a year...This is far different from RBD cases, which are typically very intense, and might involve repeatedly flailing an arm or a leg or smashing into something in the middle of a dream, not waking up easily from it, with occurrences several times a month."