Maintaining a normal body block, which means being more active in the day and sleeping at night, was found by researchers to have a positive effect on a person's mental health.
A new study revealed that there was a connection between biological clock disruption and increased risk for mental health issues such as depression and bipolar disorder.
Body Clock Linked To Mental Health
The study, which was published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, studied the disruptions of the circadian rhythms, or the daily sleep-wake cycles, of more than 91,000 adults in the United Kingdom. The disruptions were measured by an accelerometer worn on the subjects' wrists, tracking their levels of activity daily.
According to the results, the people who suffered from more disruptions to their body clock were significantly more likely to have symptoms for major depression or bipolar disorder. 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.
The circadian rhythm disruptions were defined as an increased nighttime activity, decreased daytime activity, or both at the same time. Meanwhile, the findings of the study remained consistent even when controlling factors such as age, gender, education, lifestyle, and body mass index.
Dr. Daniel Smith, a professor of psychiatry from the University of Glasgow and one of the lead authors of the study, said that the lesson from the research is that not only sleep is important for a person's mental health, but also the regular rhythm of being active during the daytime and being inactive during the nighttime.
How Do You Protect Your Biological Clock?
The so-called master clock of the human body is located in the area of the brain named the suprachiasmatic nucleus. The master clock figures out the time of day using light cues from the sun, and then relays that information to the "peripheral clocks" throughout the rest of the body.
However, several factors, including night shifts, artificial light, aging, traveling across time zones, and some diseases throw off a person's biological clock. According to the study, one of the harmful effects of a disrupted body clock is a higher risk for mental health issues. If possible, people should try to avoid these factors.
The study, however, failed to establish whether the disrupted biological clock leads to mental illness, or if it is the other way around. The researchers said that further work is needed to determine the cause and effect.