Research shows that people who are night owls and early birds suffer from different mental health issues because their circadian rhythm differs. Research has shown that depression, bipolar disease, anxiety and schizophrenia are all affected by the circadian rhythm. Scientific studies have proven that people who get up and go in the morning are more likely to experience better mental well-being. Therefore, if you are a night owl, you may want to try to adjust your sleep-wake cycle so that you wake up and go to bed earlier in the day.
What Is Circadian Rhythm?
Circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that controls many things, including sleep-wake cycles, hormone production, metabolism and immune system activity. The primary control for circadian rhythm is in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the brain’s hypothalamus, which is very sensitive to light.
Circadian Rhythm and Mood Disorders
Most studies on the circadian rhythm’s effect on mood have been done with night-shift workers. Researchers have found that graveyard workers are 40% more likely to suffer from depression than the general population. The more misalignment there is with a person’s natural circadian rhythm, the more severe depression symptoms can be.
How Circadian Rhythm May Affect Mood Disorders
Scientists are unsure of the connection between disrupted circadian rhythms and mood disorders. They believe that part of the problem is that sleep cycles get upset when the rhythm gets disturbed. People who sleep too much or have insomnia often experience more mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety. Furthermore, they know that people with disrupted circadian rhythms have abnormal serotonin and dopamine levels in their bodies. These hormones help to control mood.
Putting This Information to Use
If you believe that your circadian rhythm is upset and you are suffering from more depression or anxiety, there are several things that you can try. Set the alarm and get up at the same time each morning. Then, get out in the light or sit where the bright light can reach you. Furthermore, if you are taking antidepressants, talk to your doctor about changing your medication schedule as these drugs can contain hormones affecting your rhythm.
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