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Sleep & Mental Illness

- Summary
- About sleep and mental illness
- Signs and symptoms
- Diagnosis and treatment
- Questions for your doctor

Reviewed By:
Steven A. King, M.D.


People diagnosed with mental illness frequently have related sleep problems. Most often, sleep problems related to mental illness involve one of two conditions:

  • Insomnia. Condition in which a patient has trouble falling asleep or remaining asleep. Typically, patients with insomnia do not feel refreshed after a night’s sleep. Insomnia may be acute (short term) or chronic (lasting for longer than one month).

  • Hypersomnia. Condition that causes people to feel extremely sleepy throughout the day. Patients with hypersomnia also often sleep for long periods at night and nap repeatedly during the day. However, sleep in hypersomnia does not leave the patient feeling refreshed or more alert.

A large number of mental illnesses may cause sleep problems such as insomnia or hypersomnia. These include adjustment disorders, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, personality disorders, schizophrenia and somatoform disorders.

People with sleep disorders that are associated with mental illness are likely to display two sets of symptoms. The first set of symptoms is related to the mental disorder itself. The second set of symptoms is related to the sleep problems and includes fatigue, increased anxiety at bedtime and difficulty concentrating throughout the day.

In most cases, a patient’s sleep problem will be diagnosed and treated along with other symptoms of the associated mental illness.

However, if the patient’s complaints are primarily focused on sleep problems, one of two diagnoses may be made according to specific criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association: insomnia related to another mental disorder or hypersomnia related to another mental disorder.

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Review Date: 01-28-2007

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