Sleep Disruption Often Overlooked as Symptom of Schizophrenia

In treating schizophrenia and its symptoms, there are any number of factors to take into account. But even among patients who are on a consistent medication regimen and whose moods are stable, major sleep disruption can be an ongoing problem—one that is often overlooked by doctors. If left untreated, sleep disorders can cause a wide range of psychological issues, negatively affecting mood, mental abilities, and the ability to function socially.

A study by a team at Oxford highlights how prevalent sleep problems are among schizophrenic patients. Nearly half of those surveyed exhibited irregular or out-of-sync body clocks. Each of the 20 participants in the study were on a regular drug regimen and had been otherwise responsive to treatment, yet each experienced some measurable sleep disruption.

Some researchers argue that schizophrenics lack structure in their daily lives which would help establish and maintain a consistent sleep schedule, but the Oxford study found that, in comparison to a 21 person control group, schizophrenics were no more likely to have unstructured days. The team also took care to select participants who were on a range of medications, eliminating a specific drug as the cause of sleep problems.

The Oxford researchers are quick to acknowledge that they have only demonstrated a correlation between schizophrenia and sleep disorders; that is, they haven't shown schizophrenia to itself cause sleep disorders. The point the team was trying to make is that sleep problems can themselves have major negative consequences on a patient's quality of life, often exacerbating the hurdles schizophrenics already have to face. By acknowledging sleep disorders as a common occurrence and taking steps to combat them, doctors and patients can greatly improve patient outcomes.

Source: HealthCanal.com

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