Current Sleep Medicine Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 118–127 | Cite as

The Role of the Sleep-Wake Cycle in Adolescent Mental Illness

  • Chloe Wilson
  • Joanne Carpenter
  • Ian Hickie
Sleep and Development (L Tarokh, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Sleep and Development


Purpose of Review

Considerable sleep-wake cycle changes occur throughout adolescence and young adulthood, typically involving reductions of sleep duration and sleep-wake phase delays. The purpose of this review is to synthesize current evidence regarding sleep-wake cycle and circadian rhythm disturbance in adolescence, particularly in the context of emerging mental disorders.

Recent Findings

The clinical presentation of sleep-wake disturbances in adolescents with emerging mood or psychotic disorders is heterogeneous and multifaceted both between individuals and across studies. Whilst the available evidence suggests that sleep-wake cycle disturbances are common in adolescents with emerging psychopathologies, there are limited studies conducted on this age group. The pathophysiological mechanisms underlying these relationships are yet to be clarified.


Several fundamental gaps remain in the literature concerning the role of the sleep-wake cycle in emerging adolescent psychopathology. Further research is essential to better characterize sleep-wake patterns in relation to specific mental health syndromes, and more longitudinal research is needed to elucidate causal relationships and treatment implications.


Emerging adolescent mood disorders Depression Anxiety Bipolar Psychotic disorders 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


All reported studies/experiments with human or animal subjects performed by the authors have been previously published and complied with all applicable ethical standards (including the Helsinki declaration and its amendments, institutional/national research committee standards, and international/national/institutional guidelines).

Conflict of Interest

Professor Hickie was funded by a National Health & Medical Research Council Australia Fellowship (No. 511921). Dr. Carpenter was funded by a philanthropic gift (the Adolf Basser Charitable Trust). Miss Wilson was funded by a philanthropic gift (The Liu McCabe Family Scholarship).

Professor Ian Hickie was an inaugural Commissioner on Australia’s National Mental Health Commission (2012-18). He is the Co-Director, Health and Policy at the Brain and Mind Centre (BMC) University of Sydney. The BMC operates an early-intervention youth services at Camperdown under contract to headspace. Professor Hickie has previously led community-based and pharmaceutical industry-supported (Wyeth, Eli Lily, Servier, Pfizer, AstraZeneca) projects focused on the identification and better management of anxiety and depression. He was a member of the Medical Advisory Panel for Medibank Private until October 2017, a Board Member of Psychosis Australia Trust and a member of Veterans Mental Health Clinical Reference group. He is the Chief Scientific Advisor to, and an equity shareholder in, Innowell. Innowell has been formed by the University of Sydney and PwC to deliver the $30m Australian Government-funded ‘Project Synergy’. Project Synergy is a three year program for the transformation of mental health services through the use of innovative technologies.

Chloe Wilson and Joanne Carpenter each declare no conflict of interest.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chloe Wilson
    • 1
  • Joanne Carpenter
    • 1
  • Ian Hickie
    • 1
  1. 1.Brain and Mind Centre, The University of SydneySydney, New South WalesAustralia

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