During day and night: Childhood psychotic experiences and objective and subjective sleep problems

M Elisabeth Koopman-Verhoeff, Koen Bolhuis, Charlotte A M Cecil, Desana Kocevska, James J Hudziak, Manon H J Hillegers, Viara R Mileva-Seitz, Irwin K Reiss, Liesbeth Duijts, Frank Verhulst, Maartje P C M Luijk, Henning Tiemeier

14 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Psychotic experiences comprise auditory and visual perceptive phenomena, such as hearing or seeing things that are not there, in the absence of a psychotic disorder. Psychotic experiences commonly occur in the general pediatric population. Although the majority of psychotic experiences are transient, they are predictive of future psychotic and non-psychotic disorders. They have been associated with sleep problems, but studies with objective sleep measures are lacking. This study assessed whether psychotic experiences were associated with actigraphic sleep measures, symptoms of dyssomnia, nightmares, or other parasomnias.

METHODS: This cross-sectional population-based study comprises 4149 children from the Generation R Study. At age 10 years, psychotic experiences including hallucinatory phenomena were assessed by self-report; dyssomnia and parasomnia symptoms were assessed by mother- and child-report. Additionally, at age 11 years, objective sleep parameters were measured using a tri-axial wrist accelerometer in N = 814 children, who wore the accelerometer for five consecutive school days.

RESULTS: Psychotic experiences were not associated with objective sleep duration, sleep efficiency, arousal, or social jetlag. However, psychotic experiences were associated with self-reported dyssomnia (B = 2.45, 95%CI: 2.13-2.77, p < 0.001) and mother-reported parasomnia, specifically nightmares (ORadjusted = 3.59, 95%CI 2.66-4.83, p < 0.001). Similar results were found when analyses were restricted to hallucinatory phenomena.

CONCLUSIONS: Childhood psychotic experiences were not associated with objective sleep measures. In contrast, psychotic experiences were associated with nightmares, which are a known risk indicator of psychopathology in pre-adolescence. More research is needed to shed light on the potential etiologic or diagnostic role of nightmares in the development of psychotic phenomena.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Pages (from-to)127-134
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • Actigraphy
  • General population
  • Hallucinatory phenomena
  • Parasomnia
  • Psychosis
  • Social jetlag


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