A study finds that night owls are more prone to risking mental health problems such as depression and bipolar disorder
17 May, 2018, 00:46
In the largest study of its type, researchers at the University of Glasgow asked more than 90,000 subjects to wear activity monitors for a week in order to monitor disruption to their biological clocks, or circadian rhythm.
Disrupting your body clock can increase your risk of mood disorders and depression - and simply using your phone late at night is a bad idea.
The results of the study revealed that the people who had a disrupted body clock were more likely to get the symptoms for major bipolar disorder and depression. 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.
"So we need to think about ways to help people tune in to their natural rhythms of activity and sleeping more effectively".
To address these methodological issues, the researchers analysed activity data in 91,105 participants (aged 37-73) from the UK Biobank general population cohort to obtain an objective measure of patterns of rest and activity rhythms, known as relative amplitude.
"The circadian system undergoes developmental changes during adolescence, which is also a common time for the onset of mood disorders", he added.
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.
Previous research has identified associations between circadian disruption and poor mental health, but these were typically based on self reports of activity and sleeping patterns, had small sample sizes, or adjusted for few potential confounders.
Unfortunately, a new study says not getting good sleep can take a serious toll on your mental health. 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.
Smith said, 'It's not just what you do at night, it's what you do during the day - trying to be active during the day and inactive in darkness, ' he said.
"This is important globally because more and more people are living in urban environments that are known to increase the risk of circadian disruption and, by extension, adverse mental health outcomes".
"It's a cross-sectional study, so we can't say anything about cause and effect or what came first, the mood disorder or the circadian disruption", said Kristen Knutson, associate professor of neurology at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study.
The study can not say conclusively that body clock disturbances are what caused the mental risk, instead of the other way round.
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