People with disrupted sleep patterns more at risk of depression

·1-min read

People with disrupted sleep patterns are more at risk of depression, a new study has found.

Researchers from the University of Exeter discovered that people who go against their natural body clock are more likely to be diagnosed with depression and have low levels of mental wellbeing.

Those who are natural early risers are less likely to be diagnosed with depression, and researchers suggested that was because society is more aligned to those who are up early.

They called for more "adaptable working habits" in light of working hours and patterns changing due to people working from home amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

The team mapped 351 genes linked to being an early riser, or a night owl, and used Mendelian Randomisation to find out if the genes were associated with seven mental health and wellbeing conditions, including depression.

More than 450,000 participants completed a questionnaire on whether they were a morning person or an evening person, and sleep data was gathered from another 85,000 people.

Researchers found that people who were more out of sync with their natural body clock were more likely to report depression and anxiety symptoms, and have lower wellbeing.

Senior study author Dr Jessica Tyrrell said that employers have a responsibility to change working schedules to improve their employees mental health.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced a new flexibility in working patterns for many people. Our research indicates that aligning working schedules to an individual's natural body clock may improve mental health and wellbeing in night owls," she explained.