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Schizophrenia liability shares common molecular genetic risk factors with sleep duration and nightmares in childhood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalWellcome Open Research
Issue number15
Early online date25 Jan 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 21 Jan 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 25 Jan 2019
DatePublished (current) - 25 Jan 2019


Background: Sleep abnormalities are common in schizophrenia, often appearing before psychosis onset; however, the mechanisms behind this are uncertain. We investigated whether genetic risk for schizophrenia is associated with sleep phenotypes.
Methods: We used data from 6,058 children and 2,302 mothers from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). We examined associations between a polygenic risk score for schizophrenia and sleep duration in both children and mothers, and nightmares in children, along with genetic covariances between these traits.
Results: Polygenic risk for schizophrenia was associated with increased risk of nightmares (OR=1.07, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.14, p=0.02) in children, and also with less sleep (β=-44.52, 95% CI: −88.98, −0.07; p=0.05). We observed a similar relationship with sleep duration in mothers, although evidence was much weaker (p=0.38). Finally, we found evidence of genetic covariance between schizophrenia risk and reduced sleep duration in children and mothers, and between schizophrenia risk and nightmares in children.
Conclusions: These molecular genetic results support recent findings from twin analysis that show genetic overlap between sleep disturbances and psychotic-like experiences. They also show, to our knowledge for the first time, a genetic correlation between schizophrenia liability and risk of nightmares in childhood.

Additional information

The acceptance date for this record is provisional and based upon the month of publication for the article.

    Structured keywords


    Research areas

  • polygenic risk, genetic correlation, schizophrenia, sleep, childhood, ALSPAC

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