Sleep Deprivation and Schizophrenia


As reported in Neurobiology and summarized in Bioscholar, German researchers are finding that even a day of sleep deprivation is fundamentally harmful to mental health. Twenty-four hours of sleep deprivation, in particular, can lead to conditions in healthy persons similar to the symptoms of schizophrenia.


“It was clear to us that a sleepless night leads to impairment in the ability to concentrate,” said professor Ulrich Ettinger from the University of Bonn in Germany.

The study titled “Sleep Deprivation Disrupts Prepulse Inhibition and Induces Psychosis-Like Symptoms in Healthy Humans” was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The chronic form of psychosis is referred to as schizophrenia, which involves thought disorders and misperceptions. “This discovery was made by an international team of researchers under the guidance of the University of Bonn and King’s College, London,” writes Bioscholar. “The study involved 24 healthy participants of both genders aged 18 to 40.”


According to Neurobiology, in an initial run, the test subjects were asked to sleep normally in the laboratory. About one week later, they were kept awake all night with movies, conversation, games and brief walks. On the following morning, subjects were each asked about their thoughts and feelings. In addition, subjects underwent a measurement known as prepulse inhibition.


“Prepulse inhibition is a standard test to measure the filtering function of the brain,” Nadine Petrovsky from the University of Bonn said. This filtering function of the brain was significantly reduced following a sleepless night, the findings showed.


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