Background: Several, though not all, polysomnographic studies that use conventional visual scoring techniques show delta sleep deficits in schizophrenia. Delta sleep (in particular, ≤ 1- to 2-Hz frequency range), mediated by thalamocortical circuits, is postulated to be abnormal in schizophrenia. We investigated whether deficits in delta sleep occur in schizophrenia and whether these are primarily related to the illness or are epiphenomena of previous medication use or illness chronicity. Methods: We compared 30 unmedicated schizophrenic patients and 30 age- and sex-matched controls for sleep data evaluated by visual scoring as well as automated period amplitude analyses and power spectral analyses. Results: Schizophrenic patients had reduced visually scored delta sleep. Period amplitude analyses showed significant reductions in delta wave counts but not rapid eye movement counts; power spectral analyses showed reductions in delta as well as theta power. Delta spectral power was also reduced in the subset of 19 neuroleptic- naive, first-episode schizophrenic patients compared with matched controls. Delta deficits were more pronounced in the greater than 1- to 2-Hz frequency range. Conclusions: Delta sleep deficits that occur in schizophrenia may be related to the primary pathophysiological characteristics of the illness and may not be secondary to previous neuroleptic use. Automated sleep quantification by means of period amplitude and power spectral analyses can complement the use of conventional visual scoring for understanding electrophysiological abnormalities in psychiatric disorders.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Psychiatry and Mental health