Mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may be closely linked to sleep loss, according to the findings of a new study at Oxford University. The study investigated the correlation between the part of the brain that controls both sleep and mental health, and found that the two issues are related. By studying mice with schizophrenia-like symptoms, the team discovered a direct impact on the sleep-wake cycle that effectively reduces the opportunity for normal sleep.
“The appalling sleep-wake cycle in schizophrenia is independent of medication and social constraints. There is something fundamentally wrong with the body clock of patients with schizophrenia,” said Professor Russell Foster, research leader. “We looked at a gene linked with schizophrenia. When mutated, it completely smashes the mouse sleep-wake cycle, just like the patients we observe with schizophrenia. Here we have direct evidence of a genuine mechanistic overlap between the neural circuits that give rise to normal mental health and that give rise to normal sleep.”
The research has raised hopes that by developing a greater understanding of the links between sleep and mental health, sufferers may benefit from better sleep in future.
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