Vol. 9, No. 3, 2003 Page 2&3


Habitually violent and antisocial offenders behave far differently from the rest of us, and those differences appear to extend even to how they sleep.

Abnormal sleep patterns are associated with many psychiatric disorders, and Nina Lindberg and colleagues decided to see if this was true for violent and antisocial behavior as well. The researchers studied 19 drug-free violent male offenders between the ages of 18 and 49 who were diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, comparing them to 11 controls matched for gender, age, and weight. Lindberg et al. performed several tests of sleep patterns, measuring rapid eye movement (REM) sleep as well as slow-wave sleep.

The researchers report, "The most striking finding was the high amount of slow-wave sleep, particularly the deepest S4 stage (17 percent as compared with 6 percent in healthy controls) in males with antisocial personality disorder." In addition, an EEG spectral analysis showed elevated delta and theta power.

Slow-wave sleep typically decreases with age, and this was also true for the antisocial subjects in this study. Lindberg suggests, "It is possible that the decline in slow wave sleep that normally occurs in the course of aging is delayed in antisocial personality disorder."


"Sleep among habitually violent offenders with antisocial personality disorder," Nina Lindberg, Pekka Tani, Björn Appelberg, Dag Stenberg, Hannu Naukkarinen, Ranan Rimón, Tarja Porkka-Heiskanen, and Matti Virkkunen, Neuropsychobiology, Vol. 47, No. 4, 2003, 198-205. Address: Nina Lindberg, Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Physiology, Biomedicum Helsinki, P.O. Box 63, University of Helsinki, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland.

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"Sleep in mental and behavioural disorders," Nina Lindberg, doctoral dissertation, May 2003.

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