Cases of violent behavior during sleep have been reported in the literature. However, the incidence of violent behavior during sleep is not known. One epidemiological study showed that approximately 2% of the general population, predominantly males, presented violent behavior while asleep. In the present study, the authors describe clinical and medico-legal aspects involved in violent behavior investigation. Violent behavior refers to self-injury or injury to another during sleep. It happens most frequently following partial awakening in the context of arousal disorders (parasomnias). The most frequently diagnosed sleep disorders are REM behavior disorder and somnambulism. Violent behavior might be precipitated by stress, use of alcohol or drugs, sleep deprivation or fever.
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