People whose sleep patterns are at odds with their natural body clock are more likely to have depression and lower levels of well-being, according to a large study.
Research led by the University of Exeter, published in Molecular psychiatry, also found the strongest evidence to date that being genetically programmed to wake up early is protected against major depression and improves well-being. Researchers suggest that this may be due to the fact that society is set to be more adapted to the early risers, through the standard model of work 9-5.
The team is based on previous research that has mapped 351 genes related to being early-awake or nocturnal owls. They used a statistical process called Mendelian Randomisation to examine whether these genes were causally linked to seven mental outcomes and well-being, including major depression, using data on more than 450,000 adults in the UK from the UK’s biomedical database and research resource. Biobank. In addition to genetic information, participants completed a questionnaire on whether they were morning or evening.
The team also developed a new measure for “social jet lag”, which measures the variation in the pattern of sleep between work and days off. They measured this in more than 85,000 participants in the UK Biobank, for whom sleep data are available, through activity monitors worn on the wrist. They found that people who were less attuned to their natural body clock were more likely to report depression and anxiety and had lower well-being.
Lead author Jessica O’Loughlin of the University of Exeter said: “We have found that people who are not in line with their natural body clock are more likely to report depression, anxiety and lower well-being. We also found the most reliable evidence. so far that as a morning person protects against depression and improves well-being.
We believe that this can be explained by the fact that the demands of society mean that night owls are more likely to oppose their natural body clocks by having to wake up early for work. “
Overall, the research team found that people in the morning were more likely to adjust to their natural body clock. They then tested the effect by looking at shift workers and finding that morning hours may not be protective for depression in shift workers, which means that morning people who work in shifts may not have improved their mental health and well-being. but this is unconvincing.
Senior author Dr. Jessica Tyrell of the University of Exeter said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new flexibility in work models for many people. Our research shows that aligning work schedules with one’s natural body clock can improve mental health. and prosperity in night owls. “
The study, entitled “Using Mendeleev Randomization Methods to Find Out Whether Daily Preferences Are Causally Related to Mental Health,” and published in Molecular psychiatry.
Do you want to reduce the risk of depression? Wake up an hour early
Molecular psychiatry (2021). www.nature.com/articles/s41380-021-01157-3
Provided by the University of Exeter
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