Not getting to bed at the same time every night? Or perhaps your sleep schedule has recently been all over the place? If you’ve answered yes, you should not be surprised if you are also suffering from bad moods or depression.
New research proves that variability in shut-eye habits will significantly affect your mood and mental health – no matter how many hours you might rest.
Researchers at the University of Michigan’s Neuroscience Institute looked at the habits of over 2 000 first-year medical residents. Their findings were published in the latest edition of Nature Partner Journal.
In Mzansi, as many as one in six people suffer from anxiety, depression or substance-use problems, according to a 2019 study by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group. This does not include more serious conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia where a steady routine may also be life-saving.
In the United States, though, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said the prevalence of depressive disorder in June last year was 24%, roughly four times higher than in 2019.
Meanwhile, many at-home employees are working into the evenings, impacting on sleep, while many of the study subjects are suffering from so-called “coronasomnia”, which is disrupted sleep due to Covid-19 stress.
Study author and lead researcher Yu Fang said, “Keeping a regular sleep schedule is as important as, if not more important than, having enough sleep time for one’s mental health.”
Health expert Vanessa Ascencao reiterated that nearly half of adults report regular sleep difficulties. Deprivation is now considered to be a global pandemic with its negative impact seriously underestimated.
“Good, restorative sleep is essential for physical and mental wellbeing and supports the immune, nervous, skeletal and muscular systems – which all impact on mood, memory and cognitive function,” said Ascencao.
Ascencao recommended a daily schedule, practicing a pre-bed routine, disconnecting from screens two hours before bed, removing stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, exercising regularly, following a nutritious diet and managing stress.