Adolescents at clinical-high risk for psychosis: Circadian rhythm disturbances predict worsened prognosis at 1-year follow-up

Jessica R. Lunsford-Avery*, Bruno da Silva Brandão Gonçalves, Elisa Brietzke, Rodrigo A. Bressan, Ary Gadelha, Randy P. Auerbach, Vijay A. Mittal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Background Individuals with psychotic disorders experience disruptions to both the sleep and circadian components of the sleep/wake cycle. Recent evidence has supported a role of sleep disturbances in emerging psychosis. However, less is known about how circadian rhythm disruptions may relate to psychosis symptoms and prognosis for adolescents with clinical high-risk (CHR) syndromes. The present study examines circadian rest/activity rhythms in CHR and healthy control (HC) youth to clarify the relationships among circadian rhythm disturbance, psychosis symptoms, psychosocial functioning, and the longitudinal course of illness. Methods Thirty-four CHR and 32 HC participants were administered a baseline evaluation, which included clinical interviews, 5 days of actigraphy, and a sleep/activity diary. CHR (n = 29) participants were re-administered clinical interviews at a 1-year follow-up assessment. Results Relative to HC, CHR youth exhibited more fragmented circadian rhythms and later onset of nocturnal rest. Circadian disturbances (fragmented rhythms, low daily activity) were associated with increased psychotic symptom severity among CHR participants at baseline. Circadian disruptions (lower daily activity, rhythms that were more fragmented and/or desynchronized with the light/dark cycle) also predicted severity of psychosis symptoms and psychosocial impairment at 1-year follow-up among CHR youth. Conclusions Circadian rhythm disturbances may represent a potential vulnerability marker for emergence of psychosis, and thus, rest/activity rhythm stabilization has promise to inform early-identification and prevention/intervention strategies for CHR youth. Future studies with longer study designs are necessary to further examine circadian rhythms in the prodromal period and rates of conversion to psychosis among CHR teens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-42
Number of pages6
JournalSchizophrenia Research
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • Actigraphy
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Clinical high-risk
  • Prodromal
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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