People with disrupted sleep patterns more likely to develop mood disorders, study finds

Sabrina Barr
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Experiencing an insufficient amount of sleep can have an extremely detrimental impact on both your mental and physical health.

A recent study has concluded that a disrupted circadian rhythm can lead to an increased possibility of developing mood disorders and lower levels of happiness.

Your circadian rhythm, which is also known as your body’s sleep or wake cycle, is a 24-hour cycle that maintains the balance between feeling sleepy and alert throughout the day.

Researchers from the University of Glasgow decided to explore the connection between an interrupted circadian rhythm and the development of mood disorders in greater depth than previous studies.

Publishing their findings in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, the team assessed data collected from 91,105 individuals in the UK Biobank cohort, which is a national and international health resource.

They were able to analyse the routines of the participants, taking into account the amount of time they spent active and resting on a daily basis, otherwise described as their “relative amplitude”.

According to lead author Dr Laura Lyall, there was a distinct correlation between an imbalanced circadian rhythm and the risk of mood disorders.

“In the largest such study ever conducted, we found a robust association between disruption of circadian rhythms and mood disorders,” she said.

“Previous studies have identified associations between disrupted circadian rhythms and poor mental health, but these were on relatively small samples.”

Individuals who were reported as having “lower relative amplitude” were not only at higher risk of developing depression or bipolar disorder, but also had a greater probability of experiencing decreased levels of happiness and increased levels of loneliness.

“This is an important study demonstrating a robust association between disrupted circadian rhythmicity and mood disorders,” said Professor Daniel Smith, senior author of the study and professor of psychiatry at the university.

“The next step will be to identify the mechanisms by which genetic and environmental causes of circadian disruption interact to increase an individual’s risk of depression and bipolar disorder.

“This is important globally because more and more people are living in urban environments that are known to increase risk of circadian disruption and, by extension, adverse mental health outcomes.”

A recent survey discovered that a third of Britons are so stressed that they check their work emails at night.