People who desire to know what it is like to be suffering from Schizophrenia could do so by going without sleep for 24 hours, researchers find.

A new study has found that sleep deprivation for a day could lead to Schizophrenia-like state in healthy humans. Schizophrenia is a mental condition, in which affected people have mostly auditory hallucinations.

Researchers at the University of Bonn, who conducted the research, also said that 24-hour sleep deprivation could be used as a model to understand psychosis. The study also shows that people working night-shifts might have higher risk of developing mental disorders.  

The study included 24 healthy subjects of both genders aged between 18-40 years. Participants were first asked to sleep normally in the sleep laboratory of the Department of Psychology. A week later, they were called at the lab again and were kept awake all night with movies, games and brief walks. Next morning, participants were asked about the thoughts and feeling. Subjects even underwent a measurement called a prepulse inhibition

"Prepulse inhibition is a standard test to measure the filtering function of the brain," explained lead author Dr. Nadine Petrovsky.

The test measured the brain's filtering capacity. The brain constantly needs to check what information needs to be processed and what can be ignored to avoid overburdening the processing systems.

In the study, researchers found that sleep-deprived individuals had poor information filtering capacity.

There were pronounced attention deficits, such as what typically occurs in the case of schizophrenia," reported Dr. Ulrich Ettinger of the Cognitive Psychology Unit in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bonn. "The unselected flood of information led to chaos in the brain."

Sleep-deprived people also reported that they were more sensitive to light, color or brightness. Researchers did expect the participants to be confused following a sleepless night. But, "we did not expect that the symptoms could be so pronounced after one night spent awake," said Ettinger in a news release

The study team states that sleep deprivation can be used as a model for drug development for psychotic disorders. Usually, during drug tests, psychosis is induced using psychoactive substances. Researchers said that keeping people awake for a day might help in developing symptoms that resemble schizophrenia-like state.

The study is published in The Journal of Neuroscience.