At any one time, 16 per cent of adults in the UK have a common mental disorder, while 1 per cent has a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Although clinically recognised, the precise nature, causes and effects of sleep and circadian rhythm disruption (SCRD) in mental illness are poorly defined, and its treatment invariably neglected.
To address this the SCNi has:
- Identified novel genes involved in the generation and regulation of sleep and circadian rhythms, and critically identified genes that are linked to both the generation of normal sleep and mental health.
- Developed new methods for assessing and analysing circadian rhythms and sleep in the real world, illustrating important phenotypic differences between diagnostic groups as well as between patients and controls.
- Developed a novel intervention for complex sleep problems in patients with schizophrenia.
- Provided the first randomised control trial to treat sleep problems in psychiatric inpatients.
- Developed the largest-ever trial of insomnia treatment, using a web-based intervention.
Alongside our continued research to further define the nature of SCRD in mental illness, we also aim to address the causal relationships between SCRD and mental illness. In addition to this, we are developing techniques for early intervention, and hence the very real possibility of the prevention of some forms of psychiatric illness.