Misalignment of daily schedule and body clock linked to depression
Are you a morning person or a night person? This may be more than just a preference for day work or night work, researchers have isolated genes that are linked to differences in circadian rhythms, and are now studying how this genetic preference may play out in people’s work and daily life schedules.
So-called “night people” are found to have a higher risk of anxiety and depression and may also report lower perceived well-being than “morning people”. A study conducted on volunteers in the UK suggests that the cause may be that the structure of most work schedules tends to favor the morning preference, while those whose circadian pattern includes more wakefulness later in the day may be forcing themselves to adjust to a daily work schedule that is not ideal for them.
In general, the study authors found that people whose work schedules were “misaligned” from their body clock were more likely to exhibit symptoms of depression and anxiety and to report lower well-being. While it was found that morning people are usually less likely to experience depression and anxiety, those who work shifts with changing daily schedules do not seem to have the same protection.
However, some of the results are still inconclusive, and more research is ongoing. Meanwhile, MoodSurfing readers may take heart from the hope that the pandemic has caused a great deal of disruption in work schedules which may mean that employers will be more ready to accept flexibility in work timing and, for some, location, as well.
O’Loughlin, J., Casanova, F., Jones, S.E. et al. Using Mendelian Randomisation methods to understand whether diurnal preference is causally related to mental health. Mol Psychiatry (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-021-01157-3
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