Disrupted body clock risks mental health issues

Henrietta Brewer
May 16, 2018

This was in comparison to participants who followed a normal cycle of being active during the day and switching to rest at night.

Interestingly it's not just disrupted sleep that can upset the fine balance of your circadian rhythm, it's also important to be active during the day and inactive at night - so that evening gym session probably isn't for the best.

Dr Laura Lyall, lead author, said: "In the largest such study ever conducted, we found a robust association between disruption of circadian rhythms and mood disorders".

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

They are also likely to feel less happy and more lonely, the study found.

'Previous studies have identified associations between disrupted circadian rhythms and poor mental health, but these were on relatively small samples'.

Scientists measured the daily rest-activity rhythms - known as "relative amplitude" - of 90,000 people, adjusting for factors such as age, sex, lifestyle, education and previous childhood trauma. The work was funded by a Lister Prize Fellowship to Professor Smith. "But it is hard for some people, such as shift workers, because of their job or because of their family circumstances".

Your body clock is inherently biological, which means you can not change it.

Messing with the natural rhythm of one's internal clock may boost the risk of developing mood problems ranging from garden-variety loneliness to severe depression and bipolar disorder, researchers said on Wednesday. They plan to investigate this next. The researchers found that a one-quintile reduction in relative amplitude correlated with increased risk of lifetime major depressive disorder and lifetime bipolar disorder (odds ratios, 1.06 and 1.11, respectively), as well as with greater mood instability (odds ratio, 1.02), higher neuroticism scores (incident rate ratio, 1.01), more subjective loneliness (odds ratio, 1.09), lower happiness (odds ratio, 0.91), lower health satisfaction (odds ratio, 0.90), and slower reaction times (linear regression coefficient, 1.75).

Our internal body clocks, or circadian rhythms, determine almost every biological process in our bodies, including sleeping, eating, and our blood pressure.

"It might be that the UK Biobank provides the impetus for a resource of a similar scale in adolescents and younger adults to help transform our understanding of the causes and consequences, prevention and treatment of mental health disorders".

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