Disrupted body clock risks mental health issues

A study of 91,000 people found following your body's natural clock is vital to stay mentally healthy. Those who do not have a greater chance of developing mental disorders

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.

The findings were found to be consistent even when controlling for a number of influential factors including age, sex, lifestyle, education and body mass index, according to Smith.

Body clock rhythms govern fundamental physiological and behavioural functions - from body temperatures to eating habits - in nearly all living beings. Disruption of these rhythms has been shown to profoundly affect human health.

Greater disease risks arising from this disruption have been identified in the brain, pancreas and stress systems.

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

All participants wore accelerometers for seven days between 2013 and 2015 to record their activity. "However, this study used objective device-based measures in over 90,000 participants; and then linked this information to standard measures of mood disorders, subjective well-being, and cognitive function", he added. People with less of a distinction between active and resting periods scored a lower amplitude, either because they were not active enough during while they were awake or too active in the hours intended for sleep.

Shifts in energy levels and sleep disturbances are common during clinical depression and episodes of bipolar disorder.

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The researchers found that those who did not follow the natural rhythm had a greater likelihood of major depression or bipolar disorder and were also more likely to suffer worse wellbeing such as lower happiness levels.

But the findings "reinforce the idea that mood disorders are associated with disturbed circadian rhythms", said Lyall.

But Dr. Laura Lyall, study author and research associate at the University of Glasgow, highlights a chicken-and-egg problem since the study was an observational one.

Writing in journal The Lancet Psychiatry, Dr Aiden Doherty, senior research fellow from the University of Oxford's Nuffield Department of Population Health, said a next step could be to carry out further research on younger people.

For those who struggle to maintain a consistent circadian rhythm, certain strategies - such as avoiding technology at night - have proven to be an important part of good sleep hygiene. The work was funded by a Lister Prize Fellowship to Professor Smith.

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

The circadian rhythm disruptions were defined as an increased nighttime activity, decreased daytime activity, or both at the same time.

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