Disruption in internal body clock can put your mental health at risk

Facebook logo reflected in a person's eye. /REUTERS /REUTERS

Facebook logo reflected in a person's eye. /REUTERS /REUTERS

Individuals with a history of disrupting their body's natural rhythm - working night shifts, for example, or suffering repeated jetlag - also tended to have a higher lifetime risk of mood disorders, feelings of unhappiness, and cognitive problems, the researchers found.

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.

"People who are active during the day and sleep well at night, that is a very healthy profile [.] they would have a high score in relative amplitude", he told The Guardian.

The scientists examined people's circadian rhythms, which control functions such as sleep patterns, immune systems and the release of hormones, to measure daily rest-activity rhythms, also known as relative amplitude. The participants wore activity monitors for a week which measured how disrupted their body clocks were.

The largest study of its kind, involving more than 91,000 people, also linked interference with the body's "circadian rhythm" to a decline in cognitive functions such as memory and attention span.

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.

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His injuries are not considered to be life-threatening. "No students or staff were injured in the incident", officials said. While all Dixon public school were put on lockdown earlier in the day, only Dixon High School remains on lockdown.

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.

Additionally, the study population was "not ideal" according to Dr. Aiden Doherty from the University of Oxford in England, who added that 75% of mental health disorders start before the age of 24 years. "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". They occur in plants, animals and throughout biology, and are fundamental for maintaining health in humans, particularly mental health and wellbeing.

"Circadian disruption is reliably associated with various adverse mental health and well-being outcomes, including major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder", the authors write.

"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".

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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