Your Body Clock is Associated With Mood Disorders

Disruption of daily rhythms linked to mental health problems

People with the lower relative amplitude were at higher risk of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.

In the largest study of its type, researchers at the University of Glasgow asked more than 90,000 subjects to wear activity monitors for a week in order to monitor disruption to their biological clocks, or circadian rhythm.

The researchers found that maintaining a healthy internal body clock, which basically means staying more active during the day and sleeping properly at night, has a positive impact on the overall health of a person.

According to the results, the people who suffered from more disruptions to their body clock were significantly more likely to have symptoms for major depression or bipolar disorder.

It found that increased activity during rest periods and/or inactivity during the day are also associated with mood instability, more subjective loneliness, lower happiness and health satisfaction, and worse cognitive function.

"How do we take account of our natural patterns of rest and activity and how do we design cities or jobs to protect people's mental health?" "But I think what's less well-known and what comes out of this work is that not only is a good night's sleep important, but having a regular rhythm of being active in daylight and inactive in darkness over time is important for mental well-being". A 2009 study, for example, showed that men who worked night shifts for four years or more were more likely to have anxiety and depression than those who work during the day.

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For the latest study, researchers analysed activity data on 91,105 people to measure their daily rest-activity rhythms (also known as relative amplitude).

The study, published Tuesday in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry, looked at disruptions in the circadian rhythms - or daily sleep-wake cycles - of over 91,000 adults in the United Kingdom.

"These were people who have very poor sleep hygiene, people on their mobile phones at midnight checking Facebook or getting up to make a cup of tea in the middle of the night", author of the study paper Daniel Smith, from the University of Glasgow, is quoted as saying by The Times. Circadian rhythms occur in plants, animals and throughout biology.

Individuals with lower relative amplitude were at greater risk of several adverse mental health outcomes, even after adjusting for confounding factors, such as age, sex, lifestyle, education and previous childhood trauma.

Professor Smith added: 'There are a lot of things people can do, especially during the winter, such as getting out of the house in the morning to get exposed to light and take exercise, so that by evening they are exhausted.

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