The role of sleep dysfunction in the occurrence of delusions and hallucinations: A systematic review

Sarah Reeve, Bryony Sheaves, Daniel Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Sleep dysfunction is extremely common in patients with schizophrenia. Recent research indicates that sleep dysfunction may contribute to psychotic experiences such as delusions and hallucinations.

Objectives: The review aims to evaluate the evidence for a relationship between sleep dysfunction and individual psychotic experiences, make links between the theoretical understanding of each, and highlight areas for future research.

Method: A systematic search was conducted to identify studies investigating sleep and psychotic experiences across clinical and non-clinical populations.

Results: 66 papers were identified. This literature robustly supports the co-occurrence of sleep dysfunction and psychotic experiences, particularly insomnia with paranoia. Sleep dysfunction predicting subsequent psychotic experiences receives support from epidemiological surveys, research on the transition to psychosis, and relapse studies. There is also evidence that reducing sleep elicits psychotic experiences in non-clinical individuals, and that improving sleep in individuals with psychosis may lessen psychotic experiences. Anxiety and depression consistently arise as (partial) mediators of the sleep and psychosis relationship.

Conclusion: Studies are needed that: determine the types of sleep dysfunction linked to individual psychotic experiences; establish a causal connection between sleep and psychotic experiences; and assess treatments for sleep dysfunction in patients with non-affective psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-115
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Early online date9 Sep 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

Cite this