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Sleep Patterns Can Increase Problems With Schizophrenia And Other Mental Health Disorders
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Sleep Patterns Can Increase Problems With Schizophrenia And Other Mental Health Disorders

A new study has linked a schizophrenia specific gene and the sleep wake pattern, showing that sleep disturbances can potentially increase the frequency and severity of symptoms of not only schizophrenia but other mental health disorders as well. That study may prompt doctors who are treating people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other mental health issues to be more vigilant about their sleep history as well.

The research, led by Russel Foster, a circadian and visual neuroscientist at the University of Oxford, used mice to establish the link between that gene and sleep-wake pattern disturbances. It has already been well established that schizophrenics have problems with sleep, with as many as eighty percent of diagnosed schizophrenics having some level of sleep disorder. However, most doctors have previously dismissed these sleep problems as related to the medications that are prescribed and not as something organic to the disorder.

Foster's research shows that there is a great link between biogenetics and the circadian rhythm. The identified gene, referred to as SNAP25 is important in the circadian rhythm, the internal clock that determines sleep/wake patterns. Originally discovered using mice research, Foster and the team used a small study to show how that connection affected real patients. Twenty people, all previously diagnosed with schizophrenia were asked to wear a motion sensing wristband for six weeks. Those bands allowed researchers to tell whether the patient was awake or asleep during each part of the day. In addition, each was asked to fill out question forms and to keep daily logs of their activities. To be sure that it was not medicine related, researchers chose subjects that had been stable on their current medications for at least three months. Each participant was also asked to give two days worth of urine as well with researchers measuring the level of melatonin built up in the urine.

The control group was created by using twenty one people without mental health disorders who were currently unemployed. They were selected because unemployment has been shown to alter the typical awake/sleep pattern as well. Foster found that all had some changes to their sleep/wake patterns, however, the schizophrenic group had far more disturbances with an increase in symptoms regardless of their medications and prior histories. Similar findings are likely to be seen in people who have depression, bipolar disorder and other mental health issues that can affect physical and mental health by keeping the person from sleeping or sleeping too much.


Street Talk

I might have been able to take this article more seriously if you hadn't called people diagnosed with schizophrenia "schizophrenics," so many times. People first, especially when you speak of a diagnosis that is incredibly stigmatizing.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

No wonder I am nuts. :) Good article Amie.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Very interesting and informative. Thank you.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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