Introduction: While the precise role of sleep in maintaining optimal health and function remains unknown, it is clear that disturbances of sleep have a profound impact on the lives of affected individuals. In psychiatric disorders, not only is there a relationship between sleep disturbances and impaired function, problems with sleep also appear to affect the course of the disorder.
Methods: We carried out a literature review of sleep studies in mood disorders, alcoholism and schizophrenia to determine how associated alterations in sleep architecture and disturbances of sleep are related to patient function and quality of life, and the course of these disorders.
Results: The literature speaks to the need to address sleep problems in the overall management of mood disorders, alcoholism and schizophrenia. The support for this viewpoint is best established for mood disorders. There is also relatively strong support for treatment in alcoholism. Schizophrenia, however, has received scant attention and the literature suggests a need for more studies in this area.
Conclusions: Further research is needed into the treatment of co-morbid insomnia and psychiatric disorders. Successful therapy is more likely to be achieved if the sleep difficulty and co-morbid disorder are simultaneously targeted for treatment.