When we fall ill, our natural body clock does change. The change is almost negligible in cases of common illnesses such as fever, cold and flu but if the problem is bigger, changes would also be bigger and visible. If you are undergoing chronic stress and feeling low all the time, you must notice if there is any change in your sleep pattern. Any change against your natural body clock hints at an upcoming health danger, particularly, depression. This fact is established as a result of a study conducted by the university of Exeter. Read more details inside.
Relation between the body clock and depression
The University of Exeter, United Kingdom conducted research to find the link between depression risk in a person and changes in their body clock. According to their report, people who experience changes in sleep patterns against their body clock are at greater risk of depression and ill health. The findings are published in the journal ‘Molecular Psychiatry’.
The research team also found that people are genetically programmed to get up early which is great in preventing diseases and promotes wellness. This is because a major population works in the standard 9-5 shift making them early risers. Since the pandemic has affected our lives, the work patterns have also become flexible.
Research through genetic mapping
To establish the relationship between sleep schedule and depression risk, the team started gene mapping through a statistical procedure named Mendelian Randomisation. Over 350 genes were mapped to find if they have any role to play in mental health problems including depression. It was found that people who showcase misalignment in sleep schedules are the ones reporting anxiety, ill health and depression as compared to people with set schedules.
The lead author of this research Jessica O’Loughlin, University of Exeter, said, “We found that people who were misaligned from their natural body clock were more likely to report depression, anxiety and have lower wellbeing. We also found the most robust evidence yet that being a morning person is protective of depression and improves well-being. We think this could be explained by the fact that the demands of society mean night owls are more likely to defy their natural body clocks, by having to wake up early for work.”
Senior author of the study Dr Jessica Tyrrell, University of Exeter, said “The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new flexibility in working patterns for many people. Our research indicates that aligning working schedules to an individual’s natural body clock may improve mental health and wellbeing in night owls.”
This shows that the more aligned your sleep pattern and body clock are, the better would be your health. Sleeping early and waking up early cuts down the risk of common illnesses as well as depression.
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