Disrupted body clock can pose serious risks of mental health

A study finds that night owls are more prone to risking mental health problems such as depression and bipolar disorder

A study finds that night owls are more prone to risking mental health problems such as depression and bipolar disorder

Measurements of people's rest-work cycles could be a useful tool for flagging and treating people at risk of major depression or bipolar disorders, the researchers concluded. "However, these are observational associations and can not tell us whether mood disorders and reduced wellbeing cause disturbed rest-activity patterns, or whether disturbed circadian rhythmicity makes people vulnerable to mood disorders and poorer wellbeing".

The researchers used the resulting information to calculate what is known as the relative amplitude. They occur in plants, animals and throughout biology, and are fundamental for maintaining health in humans, particularly mental health and wellbeing.

The study found those who did not follow the natural cycle were more likely to have mood disorders such as severe depression and bipolar disorder. Such individuals were also more likely to feel unhappy, lonely and unsatisfied with their health, and have slower reaction times.

"Given that most mental health disorders begin during adolescence, more longitudinal studies in younger populations might improve our understanding of causal mechanisms, and help find new ways to predict mood disorders and fine-tune treatments".

They took account of people's age, the season they wore the activity monitor, their sex, ethnic origin, deprivation score (based on postcode), smoking status, alcohol intake, educational level, overall activity levels, body mass index, and whether they'd experienced childhood trauma.

Earlier research had suggested that disrupting these rhythms can adversely affect mental health, but was inconclusive: most data was self-reported, participant groups were small, and potentially data-skewing factors were not ruled out.

Researchers from the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom noted that a regular sleep-wake cycle is "crucial" for mental health and well-being, as they associate certain forms of disruption with mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.


The findings are consistent with research indicating a link between sleep disruptions and mood disorders.

A new study by the University of Glasgow has found a disrupted 24-hour body clock, typically caused by things like checking Facebook at midnight or getting up to make a cup of tea in the middle of the night, could increase your risk of depression and bipolar disorder. "That's not a big surprise", said Dr. Daniel Smith, professor of psychiatry at the University of Glasgow and a leading author on the study.

This study adds to the evidence that good sleep at night and activity during the day is linked to better mental health. It measured people's mood, activity levels and mental health problems at different times, with some mood measurements taken before activity levels and some afterwards.

But it's not just what you do at night, he said, it's what you do during the day - trying to be active during the day and inactive in darkness, he said.

Sleep hygiene - such as turning off screens before bed time and ensuring the bedroom is quiet, dark and cool - can help.

Some researchers believe modern life may be the reason for this trigger.

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