Lack of sleep can drive you mad, literally

A good night’s sleep essential for mental health

Doctors have always believed that there was a connection between insomnia and health conditions, but they were thought to be a side effect of the disease rather than a cause.

But Robert Stickgold, a sleep researcher at Harvard University, now believes that sleep problems actually cause certain mental illnesses.

“It was just so easy to say about a patient, well, he’s depressed or schizophrenic, of course he’s not sleeping well – and never to ask whether there could be a causal relationship the other way,” Stickgold told the Telegraph.

Stickgold has conducted studies on patients with sleep apnea, a condition in which the airway closes over during the night, causing sufferers to and lose sleep, and his findings suggest that insomnia could lead to psychiatric conditions such as attention deficit disorder, post-traumatic stress and depression.

Sleep apnea also doubles the chance of suffering from depression.

Scientists believe that because the root cause of sleep apnea is biological not psychiatric, the results prove that it can affect mental health problems.

If correct, the theory could show that people are being prescribed anti-psychotics and other drugs unnecessarily.

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