Sleep Deprivation Leads to Schizophrenia-like Experiences


Researchers from the University of Bonn and King’s College London were “amazed” at the range of experiences associated with schizophrenia that were induced in ordinary people after just twenty-four hours of deliberately-induced sleep deprivation. “It was clear to us that a sleepless night leads to impairment in the ability to concentrate,” said University of Bonn psychologist Dr. Ulrich Ettinger in a press release. “But we were surprised at how pronounced and how wide the spectrum of schizophrenia-like symptoms was.” In the study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, many participants reported heightened sensitivity to light, an altered sense of time, and experiencing unusual “mental leaps.” Many also began believing they could read others’ thoughts.

The brain’s capacity to inhibit responses to stimuli and “filter” information to prevent sensory overload was also significantly reduced. “There were pronounced attention deficits, such as what typically occurs in the case of schizophrenia,” Ettinger said. “The unselected flood of information led to chaos in the brain.”

The researchers suggested inducing sleep deprivation could provide a means to test new drugs or methods for helping people who’ve been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Sleep Deprivation Disrupts Prepulse Inhibition and Induces Psychosis-Like Symptoms in Healthy Humans (Petrovsky, Nadine et al. The Journal of Neuroscience, 2 July 2014, 34(27): 9134-9140; doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0904-14.2014)

Sleep deprivation leads to symptoms of schizophrenia (Press Release, Universitat Bonn, July 7, 2014)


  1. I guess maybe it does “amaze” them because it always amazed me how they rudely forced people in the psych hospital to wake up early in the morning and stand in line for blood pressure checks.

    That run away insomnia, caused by many different reasons, brings alot of people into the hospital so why the hell wake them up when they are finally sleeping (healing) ?

    They already tried “deep sleep narcosis”

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  2. The researchers suggested inducing sleep deprivation could provide a means to test new drugs or methods for helping people who’ve been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

    This is just plain stupid. So many people I see, who have been diagnosed with ‘schizophrenia’, when you ask what happened describe a life crisis, followed by mood disturbance, anxiety etc and also sleeplessness which leads to the psychotic symptoms. Surely the conclusion should be sleep disturbance and ‘schizophrenia’ are one and the same thing.

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      • True. Healthy sleep needs a certain pattern of REM/NREM phases and if one or the other is missing or shortened it can also lead to mental problems. Sleeping aids often lead to sleep with abnormal patterns.

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    • But I also think that not every “symptom” of “schizophrenia” is caused by sleep deprivation or disturbances. People who hear voices are not always sleep deprived (but it can get you a schizophrenia diagnoses easily).

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    • Or at least they might stop and consider that rather than hanging onto the concept of schizophrenia as if it were their mother’s tit, that perhaps anyone in a state that appears to be psychosis might just need a couple of good nights of sleep. Sure it doesn’t have the cache of a junket to Bermuda, but it could be of great value to people who are having a hard time processing everything that’s crashing around them and who would suffer horribly from a major setback in their lives.

      How many hours of what courses do psychiatrists have to take to remain as clearly obtuse as so many of them are?

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    • Or, in my case, it also easy to misdiagnose a person with “bipolar” by pretending all thoughts, gut instincts, and dream queries (due to adverse withdrawal symptoms from a “safe smoking cessation med” / actual antidepressant). A drug class which is known to cause sleep difficulties, but did not in me personally, other than the odd lucid dreaming issue. But my medical records are filled with claims of sleeping problems, despite my never having any, other than sleeping too much once antipsychoticized.

      My point, the antidepressants and ADHD meds are known to cause sleep problems. Then the psychiatrists choose to majorly tranquilize people, and blame the patients, for the known ADRs of their drugs, whether the patient have those specific ADRs or not.

      But, of course, those HIPPA laws the doctors claim provide patients with privacy, actually make it so much easier for the doctors to misdiagnose patients based upon the known ADRs of their meds, rather than the individual patient’s symptoms.

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      • I’ve definitely had that!
        My GP in London recorded reference to five symptoms of serious mental illness (that I didn’t suffer from), in my notes last year. He told me this was because of a repeat prescription of Seroquel at 25mg/day. I had him remove the references – 25mg/day of Seroquel is not prescriptive for any mental illness. The GP didn’t know anything about the medication he was prescribing.

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      • The muscle relaxant baclofen, which is for some reason the first to be prescribed for the muscle spasm of MS, in spite of the fact that there are no properly done studies showing that it is efficient and there is plenty of evidence that it the risks and side effects, and withdrawal is harsh—- it was keeping me awake, increasing the pain, and causing a host of “psychiatric” symptoms that were merely drug-induced. There was very little me happening on that drug.

        I’m still taking amitriptyline (a first line med for MS that should not be taken with baclofen and trazodone because I need to taper off amitriptyline very carefully. I heed the warnings I find here.

        Psychiatry isn’t the only branch of medicine thinking that “evidence” = marketing; but it’s still the only branch that makes up “diseases” as it goes along.

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        • I’m not sure about that – there are some serious concern about statins these days and I’m pretty sure there are more bodies in the closet.
          In general marrying medicine and money making is a recipe for disaster. However psychiatry takes it all to another level – MS is an actual disease, I’m not so sure about panic disorder and oppositional defiant disorder and other bs.

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    • A friend of mine had “diagnosed” himself with all the “negative symptoms” recently (not for real – we were actually poking fun at the way the “menatl illnesses” are diagnosed) – he has a small kid and a demanding job and is constantly tired.

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  3. This is certainly nothing new. While working on my BA in Psychology back in the ’60s, I read about sleep studies that, if my memory serves me, were done at the U. of Wisconsin (though I could be wrong). People who were kept awake, or repeatedly woken up, for several days reported that they began to have strange thoughts and hallucinations.

    There have been people who’ve tried to stay awake to break records for doing so. Peter Tripp was a Top-40 countdown radio personality from the mid-1950s, whose career peaked with his 1959 record breaking 201 hour wakeathon (working on the radio non-stop without sleep to benefit the March of Dimes). Six years after Tripp’s record, it was smashed by high school student Randy Gardner, who lasted 11 days. They were both reported to suffer psychologically.

    I believe that MANY otherwise normal people have been misdiagnosed as “schizophrenic” when it was really only sleep deprivation that caused their strange behavior. This has led many to be put on a lifetime of harmful and disabling drugs, rendering them unable to drive or have jobs, and thus putting more and more on welfare. We as a society are paying the price for this, in many ways.

    …and no, I don’t see why anyone would want to induce sleep deprivation to test more drugs!

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    • The Soviet political prisoner Alexander Solzhenitsyn has said that the worst torture he endured was the sleep deprivation, which is often used as torture, for a reason. People would crack from it. The Soviets used it to get prisoners to sign false confessions, people would confess to anything to be left alone to sleep.

      Sensory deprivation ——

      has made perfectly healthy volunteers temporarily insane within and hour. In those experiments, no one lasted more than four hours.

      The solitary isolation used in SuperMax prisons (often on criminals who are not violent) drives a lot of prisoners mad.

      Is it just too hard for the leaders of psychiatry to see that we don’t stop in our brains or even in our bodies? What we are includes our environment, the people in it, and the fluid nature of the boundaries we share with others.

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      • Btw, there is a chapter in N. Klein’s book “shock doctrine” which describes how some of these torturous techniques were developed by psychiatrists on CIA’s payroll on psychiatric patients. So much about psychiatry cutting ties with it’s murky past in 3rd Reich.

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  4. “a lifetime of harmful and disabling drugs”, with no proof the “patient” doesn’t have disease , the patient can not escape.

    ( a double negative, but writing “with proof a “patient” is healthy, the patient can escape psychiatry” doesn’t work) ,

    The idea of mental illness (everyone believes in) is a cash cow for both the (fake) doctor and drug supplier. Making something out of nothing. Just don’t you be that “nothing” to start off with.

    On the news here (Montreal) a criminal is going to receive “medication” for his illness, like he did not chose his behaviour/actions, and magical medication exist, and can make him think “good” thoughts instead of “bad” thoughts.

    “why anyone would want to induce sleep deprivation to test more drugs!” to sell more drugs to people and to the Government who is forced to buy the drugs for the psychiatric patients.

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  5. This is an example of the lack of logic that plagues psychiatry. For once they have an actual physical reaction to something and they completely miss the point.

    They perform lab experiments on animals to test the drugs.
    All of the “mentally ill” animals have to have “induced” symptoms! They make them depressed by isolation, they take them away from their mothers, they mistreat them into abnormal behavior.they create hyper vigilance by shocking their feet.
    They keep them awake, and we know animals have the same sleep stages we do.

    They also take perfectly healthy animals and tinker with their genes to make them into suitable specimens for their experiments, and then make a backwards conclusion that mental illness is genetic.

    But instead of seeing that depression is caused by isolation and inactivity, psychotic behavior by sleep deprivation and a bad diet, and then simply changing the environment to ease the suffering, they give them a drug. (Animal suffering is not a problem to drug companies)

    Then the animal model is applied to humans without the induction of “symptoms” being factored in.

    I think all “schizophrenia” starts out with sleep deprivation, but it would take time and effort to investigate what is causing the lack of sleep.
    The easy and quick answer is give them a drug. Get them into the system and wreck their minds and sidetrack their lives.

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    • That is the point – you induce “depression” in mice by trauma and stress. Scientists doing basic science have a pretty good idea that stress is the main factor but still everyone is forced to work within a framework of “how to fix it with drugs”. It’s fairly easy to fix it by just putting an animal in better environment but that has no “clinical value”.
      It’s basically the values of society that are upside down.

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  6. I watched a show on TLC last night “Our Child Was Born Schizophrenic”. As her story unfolded from birth, the parents noted that she stopped sleeping at age 3 weeks ? but their pediatrician did not take them seriously. Then as she deteriorated she was started on the drugs. The biological psychiatry story was rehearsed by the parents, doctors, etc. repeatedly throughout the show. Propaganda that the American public buys.

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