Sleep disorders have long been linked to mental health problems including depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and bipolar disorder among others. A recent University of Oxford study suggests there may also be a link between sleep disorders and schizophrenia.
The causes of schizophrenia are not understood, although some genetic predispositions are thought to play a role. However, many schizophrenia patients suffer from sleeping problems.
While sleeping problems can be triggered by lifestyle factors, genetics and medications, Oxford researchers found that sleep disorders seem to exist in schizophrenics regardless of these factors. The study, which was led by Professor Russell Foster and published in the Dec. 22, 2011, issue of The British Journal of Psychiatry, compared the sleep patterns of 20 diagnosed schizophrenics and 20 otherwise healthy individuals.
Over a six-week span, researchers monitored daily motor activity and exposure to light, as well as weekly melatonin levels. All of the schizophrenia patients had varying sleep patterns, required more time to fall asleep, and slept for longer periods of time.
The melatonin levels of the schizophrenics who participated in the study showed that 50 percent of the schizophrenia group had delayed sleep-wake cycles that were out of sync with the day-night sleep cycles of healthy participants. The other 50 percent of the schizophrenic patients in the study were more closely synchronized with the day-night cycle, but still demonstrated sleep irregularities.
While the study did not demonstrate a cause for the link between sleep disorders and schizophrenia, conditions such as cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders are also common in both schizophrenics and those who suffer from sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea.
If you believe you suffer from the symptoms of sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, a dentist specializing in sleep disorders may be able to help you diagnose and treat the cause of your condition.
Please contact us to locate a qualified sleep disorder dentist near you.