Disturbed sleep and insomnia can increase a person's risk of suffering schizophrenia symptoms, according to a new study.
Neuroscientists based at the University of Bristol (U.K.), the Lilly Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience and the Medical Research Council have carried out a study showing how sleep disruption can cause a desynchronisation of the waves of activity which normally travel from the front to the back of the brain during deep sleep.
The effect of the disruption and the resultant waves can affect an individual's mood, concentration and stress levels. However, the findings, published in the journal Neuron, suggest that in extreme cases prolonged sleep deprivation can induce hallucinations, memory loss and confusion. These are all symptoms associated with schizophrenia and this can lead to certain behaviors in people who are most vulnerable and risk to schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a breakdown of thought processes and by poor emotional responsiveness. Common symptoms include auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social or occupational dysfunction.
For the research, according to the Schizophrenic Clinic, the team analyzed a rat model of the disease for their research. Their recordings demonstrated that during sleep, there was desynchronization of the waves of activity that usually go from the front part of the brain to the back part.
Dr Ullrich Bartsch, one of the study's researchers, is quoted by Eureka as saying: "Sleep disturbances are well-documented in the disease, though often regarded as side effects and poorly understood in terms of their potential to actually trigger its symptoms."