A new study from the UK has shown that disruption in the daily rhythms (circadian rhythms) of work and rest is clearly linked to mood disorders and major depression, as well as other concerns: lower subjective happiness, feelings of loneliness, and mood instability.
Circadian rhythms are the natural paths our lives take, with patterns of work during daylight hours and sleep at night. In the modern world, these rhythms are frequently disrupted for many reasons, night shifts at work, insomnia caused by stress, and a host of others. Researchers followed 91,105 participants whose activity levels were recorded by wearing a wrist-worn accelerometer for 7 days. After adjusting for multiple variables, including age, sex, ethnic origin and the like, there was still an association of disrupted daily rest-activity cycles with mood instability and other disorders.
The study was not able to determine causation: does a disrupted circadian rhythm cause depression and bipolar, or do people develop disruptions in daily activity patterns as a result of their illness? More research is needed for this, but it is clear that there is a relationship and that disrupted circadian rhythms are a serious health concern.
Prof Daniel Smith, one of the University of Glasgow researchers, in an interview with the BBC said: “The study tells us the body clock is really important for mood disorders and should be given greater priority in research and in way we organise societies. It wouldn’t be too controversial to say we need to reorganise the way we learn and work to be in tune with our natural rhythms.”
Moodsurfing has explored the issue of circadian rhythms in a number of ways. Supercharging your circadian rhythms includes practical steps you can take to take charge of the day. We have also explored the importance of a morning ritual and morning light on mood stability. Our findings have consistently agreed with this new research: regular daily schedules and night time sleeping help enormously with mood stability.
Association of disrupted circadian rhythmicity with mood disorders, subjective wellbeing, and cognitive function: a cross-sectional study of 91 105 participants from the UK Biobank. Lyall, Laura M et al. The Lancet Psychiatry , Volume 5 , Issue 6 , 507 – 514