A team of health experts has revealed that irregular sleep patterns shoot up the risk of depression over a long time due to having fewer hours of sleep overall or staying up until late hours in the night mostly. Irregular sleep timings affect people’s moods as well. People who wake up at random times from day to day deal with a foul mood mostly. This study has been done by experts from the University of Michigan’s Academic Medical Center. Experts have measured the sleep patterns and mood of more than 2100 young physicians for one year in the study. The findings of the study have been released in npj Digital Medicine. Experts have said that young physicians who are called interns, in the first year of their residency training after medical school has undergone immense work pressure and irregular work timings that is the trait of this internship in medical training. They have said that irregular working hours and pressure has changed their sleep pattern. Experts have tracked interns’ sleep patterns and other activities using commercial devices tied on their wrists. These interns have been asked to report the signs of mood swings on a smartphone app and undergo tests for signs of depression. The study has noted that people’s devices that have shown varying sleep timings have scored higher on standard depression sign questionnaires. These people have been identified with lower daily mood ratings as well.
The study has shown that people who have been staying up until late hours in the night regularly or have slept for fewer hours have scored higher on depression symptoms and lower on daily mood ratings. The findings of the study support the fact about the link between sleep, mood swings, and risk of depression in long term. The lead author of the study, Yu-Fang has said that the advanced wearable tool allows experts to measure the behavioral and physiological parameters of mental health along with sleep patterns at a much larger scale and more precisely than earlier. The findings of the study guide people to self-manage their sleeping habits. Experts have gathered an average of two weeks of data before the residency training of the young doctors and an average of around four months of monitoring their internship period. Yu-Fang is a part of the team from the Intern health Study, which aims to study the risk of depression and mood swings among first-year medical residents for more than a decade.
Dr. Cathy Goldstein, a professor of neurology and a physician in the Sleep Disorders Center at Michigan Medicine has also been involved in the new study. She has said that wearable devices that measure sleep are being utilized by millions of people nowadays such as Fitbit devices, other activity trackers, and smartwatches, which have been used in the study. These tools help record sleep patterns and timings over the long term without involving any efforts from the users. However, there are still some questions about the precision of the sleep calculation these consumer trackers come up with, though initial work shows the same performance to clinical and research-grade actigraphy devices that have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The findings of the new study show that sleep consistency is an underappreciated factor to be covered in depression and wellness therapies.