Sodium oxybate for idiopathic REM sleep behavior disorder: a report on two patients

Keivan Kaveh Moghadam, Fabio Pizza, Alberto Primavera, Raffaele Ferri, Giuseppe Plazzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background REM-sleep behavior disorder (RBD) therapy is based on small to medium-sized case series, as no large controlled clinical trials have been performed. The most used and widely recognized effective drugs are clonazepam and melatonin, with anecdotal reports on the potential benefit of other drug classes. Methods We report on two patients suffering from idiopathic RBD presenting with almost nightly complex and violent episodes, refractory to conventional drugs. Both patients, after informed consent, were treated off-label with sodium oxybate in add-on therapy. We followed up the patients in order to assess treatment efficacy by means of clinical interview, visual analog scales (VAS) for frequency and severity, Clinical Global Impression (CGI) improvement scale and efficacy index, video-polysomnography and at-home actigraphy. Results Sodium oxybate intake was well tolerated and effective in reducing the number and intensity of RBD episodes; patients reported no new traumatic episodes. Results were confirmed by bed-partner reports, VAS, CGI improvement scale and efficacy index, and at-home actigraphic monitoring, the latter showing a trend of improvement in nocturnal sleep quality and reduction in motor activity, compared to the baseline. Nevertheless, video-polysomnography did not show a clear beneficial effect on sleep-related electromyographic parameters. Conclusions Our cases suggest that sodium oxybate can be an effective add-on option for the treatment of idiopathic RBD refractory to conventional therapies. The lack of improvement of polysomnographic parameters suggests caution in considering only polysomnographic data as endpoints in the assessment of the efficacy of therapies for RBD, and that long-term home-based assessment seems a promising tool.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-21
Number of pages6
JournalSleep Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Actigraphy
  • GHB
  • RBD
  • Sodium oxybate
  • Treatment
  • Video-polysomnography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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