Do sleep disturbances and psychotic-like experiences in adolescence share genetic and environmental influences?
Taylor MJ., Gregory AM., Freeman D., Ronald A.
Sleep disturbances regularly co-occur with clinical psychotic disorders and dimensions of psychotic-like experiences (PLEs). One possible explanation for this, which has yet to be tested, is that similar genetic or environmental influences underlie sleep disturbances and vulnerability to PLEs. We conducted a twin study to test this possibility in relation to sleep disturbances and six specific PLEs in adolescence in the general population. Approximately 5,000 16-year-old twin pairs completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and Insomnia Severity Index. PLEs were assessed using the Specific PLEs Questionnaire, comprising five self-report subscales (Paranoia, Hallucinations, Cognitive Disorganization, Grandiosity, and Anhedonia) and one parent-report subscale (Negative Symptoms). The associations between these measures were tested using structural equation twin model fitting. Paranoia, Hallucinations, and Cognitive Disorganization displayed moderate and significant correlations with both sleep measures (0.32-.42), while Negative Symptoms, Anhedonia, and Grandiosity showed lower correlations (0.01-0.17). Genetic and environmental influences significantly overlapped across PLEs (Paranoia, Hallucinations, Cognitive Disorganization) and both types of sleep disturbance (mean genetic and nonshared environmental correlations = 0.54 and 0.24, respectively). These estimates reduced, yet remained significant, after controlling for negative affect. The association between PLEs with sleep disturbances in adolescence is partly due to genetic and environmental influences that are common to them both. These findings indicate that the known neurobiology of sleep disturbance may provide clues regarding the causes of PLEs in adolescence.