A Laboratory Study of Sleep and Dreaming in a Case of Asperger's Syndrome

Abstract

Asperger's Syndrome (AS) is a pervasive developmental disorder whose continuity with High-Functioning Autism is still a matter of debate. Clinical observations suggest that patients with AS may present the same sleep disorders as autistic patients, including difficulties in initiating and maintaining sleep as well as poor dream recall. We recorded the sleep of a 25-year-old male patient with AS for two nights using a full EEG montage and compared the second night to that of a group of normal participants. We found low levels of slow wave sleep (SWS: stages 3 + 4), high levels of stage 1, and a large number of awakenings. The organization of REM sleep was unremarkable, including normal REM density. Analyses of phasic EEG events revealed a very low incidence of sleep spindles and a normal number of K-complexes over bilateral frontal and central EEG leads. In order to collect dream reports, the patient was awakened three times over two nights following at least 15 minutes of REM sleep in each case. On each occasion the patient was not aware of any mental activity happening just prior to awakening. These observations are discussed with regards to the connections that may exist between EEG sleep spindle activity, selective attention, and the capacity to generate a dream report.

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Godbout, R., Bergeron, C., Stip, E. et al. A Laboratory Study of Sleep and Dreaming in a Case of Asperger's Syndrome. Dreaming 8, 75–88 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:DREM.0000005898.95212.58

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  • autism
  • rapid eye movements
  • sleep spindles
  • thalamus
  • Fahr's disease