Sleep deprivation (SD) is known to induce perceptual impairments, ranging from perceptual distortion to hallucinatory states. Although this phenomenon has been extensively described in the literature, its neurobiological underpinnings remain elusive. In rodents, SD induces a series of behavioural patterns that might be reflective of psychosis and mania, such as hyperlocomotion and sensitization to psychotogenic drugs. Notably, such changes are accompanied by transitory alterations of dopaminergic signalling. Based on the hypothesis that both psychotic and manic disorders reflect gating impairments, the present study was aimed at the assessment of the impact of SD on the behavioural model of prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the startle reflex, a reliable paradigm for the study of informational filtering. Rats subjected to SD (24 h, 48 h, 72 h) exhibited a time-dependent increase in startle reflex and a dramatic deficit in PPI. Both alterations were reversed 24 h after termination of the SD period. Interestingly, PPI disruption was efficiently prevented by haloperidol (0.1 mg/kg i.p.) clozapine (5 mg/kg i.p.) and risperidone (1 mg/kg i.p.). Conversely, neither the anxiolytic diazepam (5 mg/kg i.p.) nor the antidepressant citalopram (5 mg/kg i.p) affected the PPI disruption mediated by SD, although diazepam reversed the enhancement in startle reflex magnitude induced by this manipulation. Our data suggest that SD induces gating deficits that might be relevant to the hallucinatory phenomena observed in humans, and provide a novel reliable animal model where such relationship can be studied.