Mood Disorders and Sleep

November 26, 2018
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One of the consistent symptoms associated with mood disorders is disrupted sleep patterns.

Researchers are looking into the question of whether sleep disruption makes someone more susceptible to mood disorders or do mood disorders cause disruptions in sleep. A 2018 study of more than 91,000 people by doctors at the University of Glasgow in Scotland found higher rates of major depression, bipolar disorder, loneliness, and more mood instability in people with body-clock disruption.  (Gallagher, James. 16 May 2018. Body clock linked to mood disorders.  BBC News).

Mood, hormone levels, body temperature and metabolism all fluctuate in a daily rhythm. Even the risk of a heart attack increases every morning as the body gets the engine running to start a new day.  Many studies have shown how shift working can be harmful to health, with effects such as depression and obesity.

People in the University of Glasgow study wore activity monitors for a week to see how disrupted their body clocks and circadian rhythms were.  Those who were highly active at night or inactive during the day were classed as being disrupted. Patients who were classified as having their sleep patterns disrupted were more likely to have been diagnosed with a mood disorder than people who had a more typical – active in the day, inactive at night – pattern.

The study cannot tell if the disruption is causing the mental illness or is just a symptom of it.  Prof Daniel Smith, one of the University of Glasgow researchers told the BBC “The study tells us the body clock is really important for mood disorders and should be given greater priority in research and in way we organised societies. But what is striking is it is pretty robust across lots of interesting outcomes.”

If you have trouble sleeping or falling to sleep, here are some tips to increase your chances of a good night’s sleep (Therrien, Alex. 16 May 2018. Sleep tips: Six ways to boost the chances of a good night’s rest.  BBC News):

  • Limit evening light
    One of the consistent symptoms associated with mood disorders is disrupted sleep patterns.Researchers are looking into the question of whether sleep disruption makes someone more susceptible to mood disorders or do mood disorders cause disruptions in sleep. A 2018 study of more than 91,000 people by doctors at the University of Glasgow in Scotland found higher rates of major depression, bipolar disorder, loneliness, and more mood instability in people with body-clock disruption.  (Gallagher, James. 16 May 2018. Body clock linked to mood disorders.  BBC News). Mood, hormone levels, body temperature and metabolism all fluctuate in a daily rhythm. Even the risk of a heart attack increases every morning as the body gets the engine running to start a new day.  Many studies have shown how shift working can be harmful to health, with effects such as depression and obesity.Having a cut-off time for when you stop using these devices of an hour and a half before bed is ideal, says Prof Malcolm von Schantz, from the University of Surrey.
  • Be consistent – go to bed at similar times throughout the week.
  • Make your bedroom a place of rest  – keep phones, laptops and computers in other rooms, and consider investing in an alarm clock so that you don’t need to have your phone near your bed. Keeping your bedroom cool is also important because it’s easier for our bodies to sleep in colder temperatures.
  • Get morning Sun – Our body clocks are designed to follow the rise and fall of the Sun
  • Have a pre-bed routine  – Having a pre-bed routine helps signal to our bodies that it’s time for sleep, Dr Ben Carter, from King’s College London, says.
  • Avoid caffeine  – caffeine can stay in the system for five to nine hours.

If you are having trouble sleeping or if you suspect your sleep may be affected by depression or a mood disorder, send us a email through our contact form or call our office.

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