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Woman Accidentally Swallows Engagement Ring While Sleeping

A Californian woman made headlines over the weekend after a dream of swallowing her engagement ring turned out to be a reality -- so we asked a sleep expert how common these situations are.

Jenna Evans was dreaming she and her fiance Bobby were facing off with "bad guys" on a high-speed train last week when she swallowed her engagement ring to protect it.

"I popped that sucker off, put it in my mouth and swallowed it with a glass of water," she posted on Facebook.

"I assumed this was a dream, because who actually swallows their engagement ring, so I went back to sleep."

The next morning Evans' left hand was bare and the sparkler was nowhere to be seen. She immediately remembered her dream overnight and knew the end to the hectic chase had become a reality.

Photo: Jenna Evans via Facebook

She went straight to her local hospital for an X-ray which proved her suspicions -- the ring was in her stomach.

Gripped with pain, Evans underwent an emergency endoscopy to have the diamond removed. Thankfully, the procedure was successful.

"Everything went great, they found my ring just beyond my stomach in my intestines, retrieved it and gave it to Bobby, not me," she explained.

The good news is, he re-gifted the ring a short time later and the happy couple's wedding is still on.

Photo: Jenna Evans via Facebook

But, it turns out Evans' behaviour may have been more than a great story, and she was urged to see a sleep specialist.

"Acting out behaviours in sleep is not a very common occurrence at all," Dr Alex Sweetman, who carries out research in the sleep lab at the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health at Flinders University, told 10 daily.

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While he couldn't comment on this particular case for obvious reasons, he explained that this sort of behaviour can be a result of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behaviour disorder.

"When we fall asleep we have a reduction of muscle tone, muscle atonia, which is a total relaxation in our dreams," Sweetman said.

He explained that people with REM sleep behaviour disorder -- about one to five percent of the population -- don't have this paralysis-type of sleep phase, which allows them to kick, fight, run, jump and swallow.

IMAGE: Getty

The main concern is the potential for the dreamer to injure themselves or a partner.

"The second [concern] is that it looks like it’s an early marker for neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson's," Sweetman explained.

The best way to diagnose the condition is with a sleep study to test a number of different body functions, including breathing patterns, oxygen levels in the blood, heart rhythms, and limb movements.

So if you're punching walls while you're asleep, running in bed, or putting your retainer in strange locations every morning, like 10 daily's news reporter Jessica Dunne, your best bet is getting checked.

Photo: Getty Images

If you do have REM sleep behaviour disorder there are treatments such as Melatonin -- but researchers are still looking into the area.

Sleep research is often centred around larger-scale issues such as insomnia and sleep apnea, with Steetman admitting there are still plenty of unknowns surrounding REM sleep behaviour disorder.

Next weekend, thousands of doctors and scientists from 76 different countries will congregate in Vancouver Canada for World Sleep 2019 to discuss all things sleep and ways to improve sleep health.