Disrupted Body Clock Linked to Mood Disorders

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People with lower relative amplitude were at greater risk of mental health problems such as depression and bipolar disorder.

It was carried out by University of Glasgow researchers, who say disruption to normal circadian rhythms, which work on a 24-hour sleep/wake cycle, is associated with a greater susceptibility to mood disorders.

A new study found that it is linked to improvements in mood and cognitive functioning as well as a decreased likelihood of developing major depression and bipolar disorder. These subjects were also more likely to have reduced feelings of well-being and lower cognitive functioning, which was measured by a computer-generated test for reaction times.

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

It is already known that the internal body clock regulates many functions including body temperature and eating habits.

"That's not a big surprise", said Dr. Daniel Smith, professor of psychiatry at the University of Glasgow and a leading author on the study. The individuals wore an activity-tracker on their wrist for a week between 2013 and 2015.

He said that a 10pm cut-off would give the average adult time to wind down before switching off the lights and going to sleep.

[2] Relative amplitude is the distinction, in terms of activity levels, between the active and rest periods over 24 hours.

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

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

Regarding the research, he told: "The next step will be to identify the mechanisms by which genetic and environmental causes of circadian disruption interact to increase an individual's risk of depression and bipolar disorder".

Researchers in the United Kingdom made the conclusion by studying the circadian rhythm: our waking and sleeping patterns throughout the 24-hour sleep cycle.

But the study adds more credence to the idea that sleep hygiene - including maintaining a consistent pattern of sleep and wake cycles - may be an important component of good mental health, according to Smith.

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.

Based on the observational nature of the study, the researchers were unable to show causality, meaning it is unclear whether the sleep disturbances caused the mental health problems or vice versa.

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