Dennis Rosen M.D.

Sleeping Angels

Evidence Childhood Trauma Leads To Brain Damage

Altered brainwave patterns seen in Borderline Personality Disorder.

Posted Apr 22, 2012

A fascinating study showing altered brainwave patterns during sleep in adults with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) was published by a Canadian group earlier this month. The researchers analyzed 15 different studies on this topic between 1980-2010, and found that patients with BPD had changes in their brainwave patterns while sleeping that were similar to those seen in patients with depression.

BPD is found in approximately 2 percent of the population. It presents as a recurring pattern of unstable interpersonal relationships, often because of a pervasive fear of abandonment; seeing others as either perfect or completely flawed; impulsive risk taking behavior and suicidality; feelings of emptiness; rapid mood swings; unstable sense of self-worth.

In the studies analyzed, it took less time on average for patients with BPD to enter into rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (the sleep when we dream), and they had longer and more concentrated periods of REM sleep at the beginning of the night relative to normal controls. They were also found to have a higher incidence of insomnia.

In most people, the beginning of the night is rich in slow wave sleep, alternating with lighter sleep and some REM. As the night progresses, there is less deep sleep, and more REM sleep. Different processes of brain restoration, memory consolidation and learning occur in the different stages of sleep, and they represent different functions of the brain.

This suggests that BPD is caused by functional changes to the brain, whether through structural alteration of synaptic pathways or in the balance of neurotransmitters


Dennis Rosen, M.D.

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