Elizabeth Saenger, PhD
A Lancet Psychiatry study published in May 2018 measured the activity/rest patterns in more than 90,000 people by having them wear wrist accelerometers for seven days. These devices enabled the researchers to calculate the extent to which circadian rhythms were disrupted in these subjects.
The researchers found that a disrupted body clock is associated with:
- higher rates of major depression, bipolar disorder, and mood instability
- feelings of loneliness
- less happiness
- slower reaction times
The study could not determine whether a disrupted body clock caused these problems. For example, possibly another factor both disrupted the body clock, and caused the problems the researchers saw. However, the results were consistent across different measures of wellbeing. The results also corresponded to links uncovered in previous studies between sleep and varied outcomes, such as the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Consequently, the research suggests that certain conveniences in modern that disrupt our activity/rest patterns may not be good for our health and happiness. For example, light at night suppresses our melatonin production, making it harder to go to sleep. Thus, artificial evening lighting in our homes, and street lights outside, can have a downside. Even cell phones, and computers, unless adjusted, can be problematic.
Are your daily life and inner clock in sync? Find out by taking the Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire (MEQ), a free, confidential self-assessment developed by scientists at CET.
And find out how you can improve your activity/rest pattern with our most popular tips on sleep and circadian rhythms across the lifespan:
- Why Seniors Have Sleep Problems and How To Fix Them
- Bedtime for Children
- Five Tips to Give Your Baby the Best Sleep in the World.
We also have useful information about sleep for everyone:
- Does Counting Sheep Work? And What Can You Do If It Doesn’t?
- How to Take a Power Nap
- How to Get the Most Out of Your Nap
Last but not least, may I recommend my favorite page of videos both hilarious and creepy, plus a look at how people sleep in a very different culture: