Challenging body clock related to depression and lower well-being

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According to a new large-scale study, people who have a sleep pattern contrary to the natural body clock have depression and lower levels of well-being.

Research led by the University of Exeter, published in Molecular psychiatry, also found the strongest evidence to date that being genetically programmed to be an early lover is protective against older , and improves well-being. Researchers suggest that this may be due to the fact that society is set to be more aligned with the early years, through the standard 9-5 work pattern.

COVID-19 has led to more flexible work patterns and this research can help advocate work habits that are more adaptable to people’s needs.

The team relied previous research which mapped 351 genes related to being an early riser or a night owl. They used a statistical process called Mendelian Randelization to examine whether these genes were causally associated with thirst and wellness outcomes, included , using data from more than 450,000 UK adults from the UK biomedical database and research resources Biobank. As well as the , participants also completed a questionnaire about whether they were a person in the morning or a person in the evening.

The team also developed a new measure of “social jetlag” that measures variation in between work and days off. It was measured in more than 85,000 UK Biobank participants for whom sleep data was available through wrist activity monitors. They found that people who were more misaligned from the body’s natural clock were more likely to report depression and anxiety and have lower well-being.

Lead author Jessica O’Loughlin of the University of Exeter said: “We found that people who were misaligned from the natural body clock were more likely to report depression, anxiety and have lower well-being. We also found The most robust evidence that being morning is protective of depression and improves well-being.

We believe this could be explained by the fact that society’s demands mean that night owls are more likely to challenge their natural body’s clocks, having to wake up early to work. “

Overall, the research team found that people in the morning were more likely to align with their natural body clock. They then tested the effect by looking at the workers in turn and found that the morning may not be protective for depression. , that is, morning people working shifts may not have improved mental health and well-being, however, this was not conclusive.

Lead author Dr. Jessica Tyrrell of the University of Exeter said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new flexibility in work patterns for many people. Our research indicates that the alignment of working hours with the natural ones of an individual the clock can improve mental health and to the night owls “.

The study is titled “Using Mendelian Randomization Methods to Understand Whether Daytime Preference is Causally Related to Mental Health,” and published in Molecular psychiatry.


Do you want to reduce your risk of depression? Wake up an hour early


More information:
Molecular psychiatry (2021). www.nature.com/articles/s41380-021-01157-3

Citation: Challenging the body clock related to depression and lower well-being (2021, June 7), retrieved June 7, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06-defying-body-clock-linked -depression.html

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