When is asleep not asleep?

New Scientist asks “Are bad sleeping habits driving us mad?”


“TAKE anyone with a psychiatric disorder and the chances are they don’t sleep well. The result of their illness, you might think. Now this long-standing assumption is being turned on its head, with the radical suggestion that poor sleep might actually cause some psychiatric illnesses or lead people to behave in ways that doctors mistake for mental problems. The good news is that sleep treatments could help or even cure some of these patients. Shockingly, it also means that many people, including children, could be taking psychoactive drugs that cannot help them and might even be harmful.”

The assumption that poor sleep is a symptom rather than a cause of mental illness has never really been questioned before. Dreams, sleep walking, afternoon naps…how do we begin to untangle the way we sleep?