Body clock rhythms govern fundamental physiological and behavioural functions - from body temperatures to eating habits - in nearly all living beings.
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.
That is the finding from a study of more than 90,000 people by scientists at the University of Glasgow. They occur in plants, animals and throughout biology, and are fundamental for maintaining health in humans, particularly mental health and wellbeing. "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".
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Previous research has identified associations between body clock disruption and mental health, but these were typically based on self reports of activity and sleeping patterns, had small sample sizes, or adjusted for few potential cofounders. 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.
Sticking to a normal daily rhythm - being active during the day and sleeping at night - can have more benefits than you might expect. The findings show your body clock is associated with mood disorders. The authors also note that rest-activity rhythms differ between younger and older adults, so the associations between circadian rhythmicity and mental health and wellbeing may differ in younger age groups.
Regarding the study, he said: 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. The work was funded by a Lister Prize Fellowship to Professor Smith.
The circadian rhythm disruptions were defined as an increased nighttime activity, decreased daytime activity, or both at the same time.