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Anorexia Nervosa: New Study Links Early Rising to Eating Disorder

— May 22, 2024

Research reveals that the eating disorder is associated with waking up early in the morning.

Anorexia nervosa is a serious eating disorder characterized by an unhealthy obsession with weight loss, often leading to self-starvation. It is a complex condition with a high mortality rate, and new treatment options are urgently needed. Recent research suggests a surprising connection between anorexia nervosa and circadian rhythms, the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. According to reports, a new study explores the link between anorexia nervosa and being a morning person. The study investigated genes associated with both anorexia nervosa and circadian rhythms. The researchers found a bidirectional relationship between these two sets of genes, suggesting that a predisposition to early rising may increase the risk of developing anorexia nervosa and vice versa.

Researchers observed that individuals with anorexia were more likely to be early risers and experience sleep problems. Additionally, they identified a genetic link between anorexia and the “morning chronotype,” a genetic predisposition to wake up early and feel most alert in the mornings.

This study suggests a potential causal relationship between circadian rhythms and anorexia nervosa. While more research is needed to understand this connection fully, the findings offer new avenues for exploring treatment options. Circadian rhythm-based therapies, for instance, could be a promising direction for future research.

The circadian rhythm is a complex biological process that regulates our sleep-wake cycle, hormone production, and other physiological functions. Disruptions in circadian rhythms have been linked to various health problems, including mood disorders, diabetes, and heart disease.

Anorexia Nervosa: New Study Links Early Rising to Eating Disorder
Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush from Pexels

The new research suggests that people with a genetic predisposition to early rising may also be more susceptible to developing anorexia nervosa. This could be due to several factors. Early risers may have a naturally lower appetite in the mornings, which could contribute to restrictive eating patterns. Additionally, disruptions in circadian rhythms can lead to changes in mood and stress hormones, which can exacerbate eating disorders.

Researchers say that the connection between circadian rhythms and anorexia nervosa opens exciting possibilities for novel treatment approaches. Therapies aimed at regulating sleep-wake cycles could potentially hold the key to helping individuals with anorexia improve their eating habits and overall well-being.

One such approach is light therapy. This treatment involves exposing patients to bright light at specific times of the day. This targeted light exposure can help regulate the body’s internal clock, potentially mitigating the negative influence of a naturally early rising tendency.

Another promising avenue is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). This therapy focuses on improving sleep quality and addressing negative thoughts and behaviors related to sleep difficulties. By tackling these sleep issues, CBT-I could indirectly address some of the underlying factors contributing to anorexia nervosa.

Medications that regulate circadian rhythms, such as melatonin, present another potential treatment option. These medications can help synchronize the body’s sleep-wake cycle, potentially leading to improved sleep patterns and a reduction in symptoms associated with anorexia nervosa.

Anorexia nervosa is a complex and devastating eating disorder. The new research on the link between anorexia nervosa and circadian rhythms provides valuable insights into the potential causes of this condition. By exploring circadian rhythm-based therapies, researchers may be able to develop new and more effective treatment options for individuals struggling with anorexia nervosa.


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