Sleep Deprivation Leads to Schizophrenia-Like Symptoms in Healthy Adults, Study


A latest University of Bonn study found that sleep deprivation even for a day causes symptoms similar to that of schizophrenia in healthy adults. Researchers said that workers in night shifts are also more likely to develop mental health disorders like Psychosis.

The chronic form of Psychosis is referred to as schizophrenia. Psychoses are considered to be the most severe kind of mental illnesses.

For the study, researchers first subjected 24 healthy participants aged between 18-40 years to normal sleep conditions in a laboratory of the Department of Psychology. Then the participants were made to watch movies, play games and engage in brief walks all night.

Researchers then surveyed participants about their thoughts and feelings the next morning. The participants underwent a measurement test called a prepulse inhibition.

"Prepulse inhibition is a standard test to measure the filtering function of the brain," said lead author Dr. Nadine Petrovsky in a statement.

The researchers found that sleep-deprived participants were associated with poor information filtering capacity. These individuals also suffered from severe attention deficits that normally occur in the case of schizophrenia.

"The unselected flood of information led to chaos in the brain," Dr. Ulrich Ettinger of the Cognitive Psychology Unit in the Department of Psychology, said.

Sleep-deprived individuals were also more sensitive to light, color or brightness. Researchers predicted participants to be in a confused state following a sleepless night. But they did not expect the symptoms to be so evident after being awake for just one night.

The finding is published in The Journal of Neuroscience.  

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