There is already strong evidence that going to bed at a regular time is important for a healthy life, in addition to how many hours of sleep we are accumulating in total. A new study has found a link between disrupted sleep patterns and an increased risk of bad moods and depression.
In research that involved direct measurement of the sleep times and moods of 2,115 physicians during the course of their first year of training, scientists found that those with variable sleep patterns were more likely to report higher moods. low and score higher on questionnaires for symptoms of depression.
Variable sleep times were actually just as likely to increase the risk of feeling depressed as much as lack of sleep in general, suggesting that staying in sync with our circadian rhythms is as important to our mental health as accumulating a good deal. hours. eyes closed in total.
“These findings highlight the consistency of sleep as an underestimated factor in attacking depression and well-being,” says neuroscientist Srijan Sen of the University of Michigan.
With an average age of 27 and working through a demanding first year of training, the physicians involved in this study are not representative of the general population, but the group gave scientists the opportunity to study large numbers of people usually. a similar situation for several months.
Unsurprisingly, sleeping more overall, getting up later and going to bed earlier, as well as following a more regulated sleep pattern, tended to improve the participants’ mood. What may not have been well documented before is how important it is to get regular sleep. patterns they are related to those other factors.
The data was collected through the use of wearable sleep-tracking devices, smartphone apps, and volunteer surveys. When it comes to wearable devices, while they may not be as accurate for sleep tracking as instruments in the lab, they allow scientists to monitor the habits of many people at once, over a long period of time, without interrupting their daily routine. activities (and hours of sleep at night).
“Advanced wearable technology allows us to study the behavioral and physiological factors of mental health, including sleep, on a much larger scale and with greater precision than before, opening up an exciting field for us to explore,” says neuroscientist Yu Fang , from the University of Michigan.
“Our findings aim not only to guide self-monitoring of sleep habits, but also to inform institutional programming structures.”
While we can all agree that better sleep habits are good for our overall health, the team behind the new study wants to see more research on how different aspects of sleep hygiene (bedtime, waking, sleep patterns, sleep, total sleep) affect well-being individually. .
The new study supports previous research suggesting that ignoring our circadian rhythms can damage our moods and increase the risk of depression over time. If you can, try to keep the same bedtime and wake-up times for an extended period of time, as it may improve your mood and outlook.
Next, the researchers want to turn their attention to other groups of people who don’t necessarily have full control over when they go to bed, when they wake up, and how many hours of sleep they have between them, such as parents of young children. , for example.
“I also wish my 1-year-old could learn about these findings and only woke me up at 8.21am every day,” says Fang.
The research has been published in npj digital medicine.