Reports of subjective sleep impairments have been replicated in adults with bipolar disorder (BD), young BD patients, and even children of parents with BD. Furthermore, circadian rhythm alterations are a core feature of BD. Despite the impairment in circadian rhythms and altered sleep included in various heuristic developmental models of BD, thus far, biomarkers have not been sufficiently objectively validated. Thus, here, we assessed the rest-activity circadian rhythmicity and sleep macrostructure using actigraphy in a sample of unaffected child and adolescent offspring of bipolar parents (BO; n = 43; 21 females; 11.0 ± 3.2 years) and controls (n = 42; 17 females; 11.1 ± 3.4 years) comparable in sex (p = .4) and age (p = .7). All participants wore a MotionWatch 8 (Camntech, Cambridge, UK) actigraph on their nondominant wrist for ≥ 14 days and completed sleep diaries. Psychopathology was assessed by the Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia and by subjective scales. The main areas of interest were rest-activity circadian rhythmicity, chronotype and sleep macrostructure. Subgroup analyses (child and adolescent subgroups) were conducted to identify physiological differences in sleep between these age groups. The BO and controls did not differ in the presence of current mood (p = .5) and anxiety (p = .6) disorders. The BO had shorter sleep time on free days (p = .007; effect size, Cohen´s d = 0.56), lower sleep efficiency on free days (p = .01; d = 0.47), lower prolongation of time in bed on free days (p = .046; d = 0.41), and lower social jet lag (p = .04; d = 0.5) than the controls. A longer sleep time on school days (p < .001; d = 0.21), lower prolongation of sleep time between school and free days (p = .008; d = 0.74), and larger difference in sleep onset latency between school days and free days (p = .009; d = 0.52) were observed in the adolescent BO than in the controls. The child BO had poorer sleep quality on free days than the controls (p = .02; d = 0.96). In all cases, the results remained significant after controlling for subthreshold mood and anxiety symptoms. The BO had less variable rest-activity rhythm than controls (p = .04; d = 0.32). No other significant differences between the BO and controls were observed in the rest-activity circadian rhythmicity and chronotype. The results showed decreased physiological catch-up sleep on free days in the BO, which may indicate a decreased need for sleep in this population. Thus, the decreased need for sleep observed in the unaffected BO may represent an endophenotype of BD.

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Journal: Chronobiology international. 2019 Sep 2;36(9):1227-39

Keywords: at risk, Bipolar disorder, Circadian rhythm, offspring, trait marker,

Applications: Chronobiology,

CamNtech Reference: M19046

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