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Schizophrenia and sleep disorders: links, risks, and management challenges

Authors Kaskie RE, Graziano B, Ferrarelli F

Received 6 July 2017

Accepted for publication 24 August 2017

Published 21 September 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 227—239


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Steven A Shea

Rachel E Kaskie,1 Bianca Graziano,2 Fabio Ferrarelli1

1Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; 2Department of Health Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy

Abstract: Schizophrenia is a major psychiatric disorder that has a massive, long-lasting negative impact on the patients as well as society. While positive symptoms (i.e., delusions and hallucinations), negative symptoms (i.e., anhedonia, social withdrawal), and cognitive impairments are traditionally considered the most prominent features of this disorder, the role of sleep and sleep disturbances has gained increasing prominence in clinical practice. Indeed, the vast majority of patients with schizophrenia report sleep abnormalities, which tend to precede illness onset and can predict an acute exacerbation of psychotic symptoms. Furthermore, schizophrenia patients often have a comorbid sleep disorder, including insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, or periodic limb movement disorder. Despite accumulating data, the links between sleep disorders and schizophrenia have not been thoroughly examined, in part because they are difficult to disentangle, as numerous factors contribute to their comorbidity, including medication status. Additionally, sleep disorders are often not the primary focus of clinicians treating this population, despite studies suggesting that comorbid sleep disorders carry their own unique risks, including worsening of psychotic symptoms and poorer quality of life. There is also limited information about effective management strategies for schizophrenia patients affected by significant sleep disturbances and/or sleep disorders. To begin addressing these issues, the present review will systematically examine the literature on sleep disorders and schizophrenia, focusing on studies related to 1) links between distinct sleep disorders and schizophrenia; 2) risks unique to patients with a comorbid sleep disorder; and 3) and management challenges and strategies.

Keywords: psychosis, sleep disturbances, insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea

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