hero image

A recent study has stressed the critical importance of high-quality sleep for overall health. Poor sleep and disruptions to our internal body clocks can worsen psychiatric issues, thus the need for adequate rest.

Sleep-circadian disruptions linked to mental health issues

Dr. Sarah Chellappa, a senior author from the University of Southampton, highlights the prevalence of sleep-circadian disturbances in various psychiatric disorders. She explains that while insomnia’s role in these disorders is well-known, circadian disruptions are less understood. Therefore it is important to understand how such factors interact so that it can be possible to develop and implement sleep-circadian interventions that can help alleviate sleep and psychiatric health symptoms in individuals.

Researchers investigated the relationship between sleep, circadian rhythms, and mental health in adolescents and young adults. They found that disruptions in sleep and circadian rhythms during these critical years increase the risk of developing psychiatric disorders.

According to studies, insomnia is prevalent among individuals with mental health issues, with a significant portion experiencing both insomnia and hypersomnia, characterized by difficulty sleeping at night and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Research on circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders (CRSWD) indicates that 32% of individuals with bipolar disorder experience Delayed Sleep-Wake Phase Disorder, causing them to fall asleep and wake up later than usual. During manic episodes, cortisol patterns, the body’s primary stress hormone, advance by seven hours, while during depressive phases, they lag behind by four to five hours. Therefore, effective treatment involves restoring balance in timing.

Behavioral and physiological changes cause sleep-circadian disruptions

The study investigated the reasons for sleep-circadian disruptions in psychiatric conditions. Notably, adolescents undergo physiological and behavioral changes, such as staying awake longer and altering sleep patterns. King’s College London’s Dr. Nicholas Meyer asserts that such changes can cause misalignment between the body clock and sleep-wake rhythms, potentially leading to sleep issues and mental health problems.

Researchers investigated the impact of genetics, light exposure, and neural plasticity on mental health. Those genetically inclined towards less activity variation between rest and wake phases tend to suffer from depression and mood instability. Studies suggest outdoor time reduces mood disorders.