It is already common knowledge that getting a good night’s sleep is vital to overall wellbeing, including mental health. A recent study, however, suggests that more significant to the improvement of mental health than the amount of sleep is a consistent daily sleep-wake cycle, also called the circadian rhythm.
Sticking to a daily rhythm, which means that tasks and activities are done during the day and the night is devoted to sleep, leads to better mood and cognitive functioning.
The study, which is the biggest of its kind, so far, was conducted in UK, had an unprecedented sample size of 91,000 participants, took place from 2013 to 2015, and was carried out by researchers from Scotland, Ireland, and Sweden.
The research subjects were provided with an accelerometer device that they wore on their wrist and tracked their daily activity levels for a one-week period. Those who had their circadian rhythm disrupted, which was characterized by more nighttime activities and less during the day, showed signs of bipolar disorder or depression. They also showed diminished cognitive functioning, as exhibited by a computerized test.
While the study does not ascertain causality, it remains consistent with several studies conducted in the past that link sleep disruptions and mental health problems.
Jonathan Lauter, M.D. is an accomplished psychiatrist who has served in varying capacities in the field, including academic, clinical, and administrative positions. Visit this website for similar articles.