How does a disturbed daily rhythm affect the psyche?
When people suffer from mood disorders, feelings of loneliness and unhappiness, a disturbed sleep-wake rhythm of rest and activity can be the source of these problems. Researchers have now found that disorders of the so-called circadian rhythms can be a cause of mental health problems.
In their current study, the University of Glasgow scientists found that circadian rhythms are a cause of mental health problems. The doctors published the results of their current study in the English-language journal "The Lancet".
Balance between rest and activity is important
The results of the investigation do not show whether disorders of the circadian rhythms are a cause of mental health problems or whether the disorders are triggered by mental problems or whether it is a combination of both situations, the experts explain. However, the study underlines the importance of a balanced balance between rest and activity.
Circadian disturbances occur more often in cities
Many people today have a disturbed 24-hour cycle. By 2050, an estimated two-thirds of the world's population will live in cities where circadian disorders are much more likely to occur. This can lead to major public health problems. Various questions arise here: How can natural patterns of calm and activity be influenced? How should cities and workplaces be designed to protect people's mental health?
Analyzed data came from UK BioBank
For the current study, which was the largest of its kind to date, the data from the so-called UK BioBank were analyzed. This research initiative collected the health information of 500,000 people. The subjects were between the ages of 37 and 73 years.
Researchers used activity trackers
To further explore the link between mental health and the 24-hour cycles of sleep and activity known as circadian rhythms, the team also looked at data from more than 91,000 participants who had a week in 2013 Wrist activity tracker.
Regularity of rest and activity was examined
The scientists examined how active the subjects were on average during their most active ten hours a day. The researchers then compared this value with the five least active hours of the participants. A relative amplitude could be calculated to determine the inconsistency or disturbance of the regularity of rest and activity, explains the study author Professor Daniel Smith from the University of Glasgow. When people are active during the day and sleep well at night, they have a very healthy profile. The participants, who tended to have disturbed sleep, woke up a few times a night and were less active during the day, performed significantly worse, say the doctors.
Questionnaires were evaluated
The researchers then examined the results of questionnaires that were filled out by participants when they registered with the UK Biobank. Factors such as loneliness, reaction time and neuroticism were found in these. The participants were also asked about depression and bipolar disorders.
Subjects were divided into groups
The subjects were then divided into five groups of almost the same size based on their relative amplitude and the results were analyzed. A low relative amplitude was associated with poorer mental health, also taking into account factors such as age, gender, season (in which the tracker was worn), socio-economic status, smoking status and childhood trauma experience.
How did a disturbed daily rhythm affect you?
If the relative amplitude values of one group were compared with the values of the next lower group, it was found that the probability of loneliness increased from group to group by nine percent. The risk of developing depression was increased by six percent, the probability of developing bipolar disorder increased by eleven percent. Satisfaction also decreased and response times slowed down, the authors explain.
Were there any restrictions in the study?
The results appear to be very consistent with these negative psychological and cognitive effects. The connection remained even after taking many different factors into account, say the doctors. However, the study had limitations, including the fact that activity data was collected only during one week and at a different time than the questionnaire data. In addition, no teenagers were taken into account, although it is precisely this important time in life that can have a great impact on mental health as well as on the body's own clock.
Internal clock differs from person to person
After 10 p.m., activities that could disrupt the circadian rhythm should be avoided, the experts advise. Such activities include using cell phones or getting up at night to have a drink. However, it is important to note that body clocks differ from person to person, which means that flexibility is important both at work and at school. There is simply no optimal timing for everyone, adds Professor Smith. (as)