Seasonal changes, sleep length and circadian preference among twins with bipolar disorder

Hakkarainen, Reeta; Johansson, Carolina; Kieseppä, Tuula; Partonen, Timo; Koskenvuo, Markku; Kaprio, Jaakko; Lönnqvist, Jouko
January 2003
BMC Psychiatry;2003, Vol. 3, p6
Academic Journal
Background: We aimed at studying the seasonal changes in mood and behaviour, the distribution of hospital admissions by season, and the persistence of the circadian type in twins with bipolar disorder and their healthy co-twins. Methods: All Finnish like-sex twins born from 1940 to 1969 were screened for a diagnosis of bipolar type I disorder. The diagnosis was assessed with a structured research interview, and the study subjects (n = 67) filled in the Seasonal Pattern Assessment Questionnaire (SPAQ) and the Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire (MEQ). For studying the persistence of the habitual sleep length and circadian type, we used data derived from the Finnish Twin Cohort Questionnaire (FTCQ). Bipolar twins were compared with their healthy co-twins. Results: Bipolar twins had greater seasonal changes in sleep length (p = 0.01) and mood (p = 0.01), and higher global seasonality scores (p = 0.03) as compared with their co-twins with no mental disorder. Sunny days (p = 0.03) had a greater positive effect on wellbeing in the bipolar than healthy co-twins. Conclusions: Our results support the view that bipolar disorder is sensitive to the environmental influence in general and to the seasonal effect in specific. Exposure to natural light appears to have a substantial effect on wellbeing in twins with bipolar disorder.


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