Sleep spindles have been involved in sleep stabilization and sleep-related memory mechanisms and their deficit emerged as possible biomarker in schizophrenia. However, whether this sleep phenotype is also present in other disorders that share psychotic symptoms remains unclear. To address this gap, we assessed sleep spindles in participants of a prospective population-based cohort who underwent psychiatric assessment (CoLaus|PsyCoLaus) and polysomnographic recording (HypnoLaus).
Sleep was recorded using ambulatory polysomnography in participants (N = 1037) to the PsyCoLaus study. Sleep spindle parameters were measured in people with a lifelong diagnosis of schizophrenia (SZ), schizoaffective depressive (SAD), schizoaffective manic (SAM), bipolar disorder type I (BP-I) and type II (BP-II). The associations between lifetime diagnostic status (independent variables, SZ, SAD, SAM, BPD-I, BPD-II, controls) and spindle parameters (dependent variables) including density, duration, frequency and maximum amplitude, for all (slow and fast), slow- and fast-spindle were assessed using linear mixed models. Pairwise comparisons of the different spindle parameters between the SZ group and each of the other psychiatric groups was performed using a contrast testing framework from our multiple linear mixed models.
Our results showed a deficit in the density and duration of sleep spindles in people with SZ. They also indicated that participants with a diagnosis of SAD, SAM, BP-I and BP-II exhibited different sleep spindle phenotypes. Interestingly, spindle densities and frequencies were different in people with a history of manic symptoms (SAM, BP-I, and BP-II) from those without (SZ, SAD).
Although carried out on a very small number of participants due to the low prevalence of these disorders in general population, this pilot study brought new elements that argued in favor of a deficit of sleep spindles density and duration in people with schizophrenia. In addition, while we could expect a gradual change in intensity of the same sleep spindle parameters through psychotic diagnoses, our results seem to indicate a more complex situation in which the frequency of sleep spindles might be more impacted by diagnoses including a history of mania or hypomania. Further studies with a larger number of participants are required to confirm these effects.

© 2022. The Author(s).