Your Body Clock is Associated With Mood Disorders

Ebony Scott
May 17, 2018

"To look at this in more detail, it will be useful for future studies to track participants' rest-activity patterns over time to see whether disturbed rhythms can predict whether someone is more likely to go on to develop a mood disorder", commented author Dr Laura Lyall from the University of Glasgow. Irregular sleep patterns were also associated with mood swings and increased neuroticism and feelings of loneliness and unhappiness, along with slower reaction times. A newly published study, which examined more than 91,000 people, linked a disrupted internal clock (being active at night or inactive during the day) with the development of mood disorders.

Writing in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, a team of researchers from Scotland, Ireland and Sweden report how they carried out the largest study of its kind to date by harnessing data from the UK BioBank, a research endeavour that has collected health information on 500,000 participants, aged between 37 and 73, since 2006.

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.

Previous studies have identified associations between disrupted circadian rhythms and poor mental health, but these were on relatively small samples. A circadian relative amplitude variable was derived from these data, and the correlation with mood disorder, well-being, and cognitive variables was assessed.

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The results held true even after adjusting for a wide range of influential factors including age, sex, lifestyle, education, body mass index and childhood trauma.

The researchers found that lower relative amplitude was associated with a greater odds of reporting lifetime history of major depression or bipolar disorder. They occur in plants, animals and throughout biology, and are fundamental for maintaining health in humans, particularly mental health and wellbeing.

Daniel Smith, senior author of the paper, told The Times that using mobile phones late at night, waking in the early hours to make a cup of tea are among the things that affect sleep. He said that those who are active during the day and sleep well at night are the ones with healthy profiles and they have higher scores in relative amplitude.

'Especially in the winter, making sure you get out in the morning in the fresh air is just as important in getting a good night's sleep as not being on your mobile phone'.

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