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Mental Health, Circadian Rhythm Disruption & a Good Night’s Sleep

— October 14, 2022

CRD can cause sleep disruption, studies show.

A new study from University of California, Irvine has come out tying mental health to sleep and sleep disruption. Researchers have seen links suggesting that mental health disorders such as anxiety, autism, and Tourette’s syndrome may be magnified by interruptions during sleep. Their current hypothesis is straightforward: CRD, or Circadian Rhythm Disruption, is a “psychopathology factor” influencing a wide array of mental illnesses.

Scientists in Irvine see CRD as a common denominator in their studies of mental illness, leading them to believe sleep disruption may be more important than we currently believe. Understanding the driving forces behind CRD will hopefully give researchers insight on the mental illnesses in question.

The most important piece of this study to understand is the overwhelming importance of the Circadian Rhythm. Prevalent in every species, the Circadian Rhythm is a sleep-wake pattern an individual experiences and grows accustomed to. It controls the subconscious daily schedule all living creatures have. If it is disrupted, everything is disrupted.

Mental Health, Circadian Rhythm Disruption & a Good Night’s Sleep
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While the Circadian Rhythm is powerful, it isn’t perfect. It’s highly susceptible to light and dark patterns, being able to be disrupted in a change in brightness level. Researchers believe this to be a key reason to keep a dark bedroom.

Deirdre A. Reilly at notes the array of effects caused by CRD, saying, “CRD can affect the onset of aging-related mental disorders among the elderly.” Scientists have also seen much higher instances of CRD among the elderly, Reilly writes.

Circadian Rhythm Disruption isn’t alone in its ability to cause mental illness, general sleep deprivation is a huge factor in the fight for well-being.

Elizabeth Blake Zakarin, assistant professor of psychology at the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders, highlights these causes in a recent interview, “While insomnia can be a symptom of psychiatric disorders, like anxiety and depression, it is now recognized that sleep problems can also contribute to the onset and worsening of different mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and even suicidal ideation.” Zakarin’s studies have been a breakthrough, showing that insomnia is not only a symptom of mental illness, but a cause.

Zakarin goes on to state the importance of a minimum seven hours of uninterrupted rest. Certain groups like teens may need more but getting at least seven hours will give anyone a fighting chance against mental illness. Certain foods can also be beneficial; milk products and fish have shown evidence of promoting good sleep as well.

Bad sleep is an issue, but it isn’t the end of the world, says Zakarin. She calls attention to treatments available to those who can’t find sleep on their own, “Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), is recognized as a first line treatment for insomnia.” Don’t get into a cycle of bad nights causing bad days, sleep specialists are available for anyone needing some help getting their eight hours.


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