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Maintaining a daily rhythm is important for mental health, study suggests
17 May 2018, 12:45 | Lucy Hill
Largest study to date finds link between disruption to body clock and severe depression
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).
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.
"I don't think it's unreasonable to say this is another piece of evidence that might suggest we should all be more mindful of our natural rhythms of activity and rest", Professor Smith explained. Disruption of the internal body clock can put you at raised risk of mood disorders.
That is the discovery from a study of more than 90,000 people by the researchers at the University of Glasgow.
All participants wore accelerometers for seven days between 2013 and 2015 to record their activity.
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 Relative amplitude is the distinction, in terms of activity levels, between the active and rest periods over 24 hours.
"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 told.
The results held true even when the potential impact of factors such as old age, unhealthy lifestyle, obesity, and childhood trauma were taken into account, they reported in The Lancet Psychiatry, a medical journal.
'This is an important study demonstrating a robust association between disrupted circadian rhythm and mood disorders'. Circadian rhythms occur in plants, animals and throughout biology. "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".
"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".
Now it's not clear whether the sleep problems cause the mental health issues-or maybe it's the other way around.
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