Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

Disruption of Circadian Rhythm Negatively Impacts Mental Health

Disruption of Circadian Rhythm Negatively Impacts Mental Health

Now, a new research published in The Lancet Psychiatry has found that people who experience disrupted 24-hour cycles of rest and activity are more likely to develop mood disorders, as well as loneliness feelings, and lower levels of happiness.

Disrupting your body clock can increase your risk of mood disorders and depression - and simply using your phone late at night is a bad idea.

The scientists found that people who experienced more circadian disruption were between 6% and 10% more likely to have been diagnosed with a mood disorder than people who had more typical sleep cycles. Circadian disruption was also associated with lower subjective wellbeing, higher neuroticism and greater mood instability.

This study had a sample size large enough to assess the effect of circadian disruption on mental health disorders and was the first to objectively measure patterns of rest and activity (using accelerometers).

Around one in 25 participants were about as active during the day as they were at night.

He added: 'The circadian system undergoes developmental changes during adolescence, which is also a common time for the onset of mood disorders.

For the large study, the researchers examined activity data of 91,105 people from the United Kingdom who were aged between 37 to 73 years.

Disruption of Circadian Rhythm Negatively Impacts Mental Health
Disruption of Circadian Rhythm Negatively Impacts Mental Health

A new study established a link between biological clock disruptions and increased risk for mental health issues.

They are also likely to feel less happy and more lonely, the study found. They occur in plants, animals and throughout biology, and are fundamental for maintaining health in humans, particularly mental health and wellbeing.

"So we need to think about ways to help people tune in to their natural rhythms of activity and sleeping more effectively".

Writing in a linked Comment, Dr Aiden Doherty from the University of Oxford in the UK agrees: "Although the UK Biobank is one of the most important medical resources worldwide, the study population (median age at baseline of 62 years, IQR 54-68 years) is not ideal to examine the causes of mental health, given that 75% of disorders start before the age of 24 years".

"This is important globally because more and more people are living in urban environments that are known to increase the risk of circadian disruption and, by extension, adverse mental health outcomes".

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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