Sleep apnea treatment curbs aggression in sex offenders

Relationship between sleep and criminal behavior explored

Ottawa, Canada November 16, 2006 -- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects up to 20% of men in western cultures, 5% of whom experience significant physical symptoms. A study published in Journal of Forensic Sciences finds that sex offenders who suffer from OSA experience more harmful psychological symptoms than do sex offenders with normal sleep patterns.

Sex offenders with known OSA were administered a treatment using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), whereby compressed air is applied into the nose and/or mouth through a respiratory mask while the subject sleeps. The subjects were given criteria and asked to score themselves based on personal anger, verbal aggression, hostility and physical aggression before and after treatment.

The subjects scored themselves significantly lower (better) post-CPAP treatment, but it is unclear whether this treatment will lead to observational changes in behavior.

"The current study shows a potentially important relationship between sleep and aggression, and supports the need for further investigation of sleep disorders and disordered sexual behavior," says Dr. J. Paul Fedoroff, lead author of the study.


This study was published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences. Media wishing to receive a PDF of the article, please contact [email protected].

J. Paul Fedoroff, M.D. is Director of the Forensic Unit of the University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research (IMHR), Co-Director of the Sexual Behaviors Clinic at the Integrated Forensic Program of the Royal Ottawa Hospital and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa. He can be reached for questions at [email protected]

The Journal of Forensic Sciences is the official publication of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS). It is devoted to the publication of original investigations, observations, scholarly inquiries, and reviews in the various branches of the forensic sciences. For more information, please visit

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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