If you ever wanted to know what it’s like to have schizophrenia, all you have to do is withhold sleep from your body for a day.
New research conducted by international team of researchers under the guidance of the University of Bonn and King’s College London indicates that just 24 hours of not sleeping can lead to schizophrenia-like symptoms in an otherwise healthy person. Schizophrenia is one of a family of psychoses in which there is a loss of contact with reality. Victims of schizophrenia also suffer from hallucinations and delusions.
The researchers examined 24 subjects of both genders who were between the ages of 18 to 40. In an initial run, the test subjects were to sleep normally in the laboratory. About one week later, they were kept awake all night with movies, conversation, games and brief walks. On the following morning, subjects were each asked about their thoughts and feelings. In addition, subjects underwent a test that measures the filtering functions of the brain.
Scientists found that in the subjects there were pronounced attention deficits, such as what typically occurs in the case of schizophrenia. Their sense of time and sense of smell were also altered and mental leaps were reported. Many of those who spent the night even had the impression of being able to read thoughts or notice altered body perception.
The research teams says they were surprised at the changes from just one day of lost sleep. They said further tests should be run, including on those who are required to work at night.
The results of the study have been published in The Journal of Neuroscience.