A Review of Sleep-Related Violence: The Demographics of Sleep Forensics Referrals to a Single Center.

Affiliation

Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center, Minneapolis, MN; Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN; Sleep Forensics Associates, Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

This review of sleep-related violence reports the nature of the underlying sleep-suspected conditions enountered and helps establish the spectrum of sleep-related behaviors resulting in forensic consequences. This information may begin to bridge the gap between the differing medical and legal concepts of automatisms (complex motor behaviors occurring in the absence of conscious awareness and therefore without culpability). Sleep medicine professionals are increasingly asked by legal professionals whether a sleep-related condition could have played a role in a forensic-related event. Inasmuch as sleep medicine is a relatively young field, there is scant information to address these questions. The three most prevalent criminal allegations of the 351 consecutive possible sleep forensic-related referrals to a single sleep medicine center over the past 11 years were sexual assault, homicide/manslaughter or attempted murder, and driving under the influence. The overwhelming possible sleep disorder implicated was sexsomnia, accounting for 41%, or 145 out of 351 cases. Of the 351 referrals, 111 were accepted following thorough case review. In general, cases not accepted were declined on the basis of little or no merit or contamination by alcohol intoxication. Of those cases accepted, the proposed initial claim that a sleep phenomenon was operant was supported in approximately 50%, which were mostly non-rapid eye movement disorders of arousal. No cases were felt to be due to rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder.

Keywords

crime,rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder,sexsomnia,sleep forensics,

OUR Recent Articles