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A new study shows that there may be a link between poor sleep and several mental health disorders.
Mental health disorders include anxiety, Tourette syndrome and autism, according to a University of California, Irvine (UCI) press release issued earlier this month.
Scientists from the UCI assume that circadian rhythm disorderor CRD, is a “psychopathological factor” shared by a wide range of mental illnesses.
The scientists also say that research into the “molecular basis” of CRD could be crucial to unlocking better treatments for these mental disorders.
The research on the relationship between sleep and mental disorders was recently published in the journal Translational Psychology.
“Circadian rhythms play an essential role in all biological systems at all levels, from molecules to populations,” senior author Pierre Baldi, professor of computer science at UCI and director of the UCI Institute for Genomics and Bioinformatics, said in a UCI press release.
“Our analysis found that disruption of the circadian rhythm is a factor that broadly overlaps with a whole range of mental health disorders,” he continued.
UCI researchers found important evidence of the relationship between sleep disturbance and these disorders by carefully examining the peer-reviewed literature on the most prevalent mental health disorders, according to the press release.
“The obvious sign of a circadian rhythm disorder—a problem with sleep—was present in each disorder,” lead author Amal Al-Ashkar, a neuroscientist and professor in the UC International’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, said in the statement.
“While our focus has been on widely known conditions including autism, ADHD, and bipolar disorder,” she continued, “we argue that the CRD factor hypothesis can be generalized to other mental health issues, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anorexia and nervousness, bulimia; Nervousness, food addiction, and Parkinson’s disease”.
“Our analysis found that circadian rhythm disruption is a factor that broadly overlaps with a whole range of mental health disorders.”
The circadian rhythm is the sleep-wake pattern that an individual experiences over a 24-hour period, according to Healthline.com.
They add that it helps control the daily sleep-wake schedule, and most living things have one.
The post notes that “maintaining healthy habits can help you better respond to this natural rhythm of your body.”
A mother and grandmother from the Washington, DC, area said good sleep habits, started early, may help improve overall health and mental outlook, too.
“Some parents today are letting their children choose their bedtimes, and I never thought that was such a good idea,” she told Fox News Digital. “One proactive measure is to start healthy sleep patterns when children are young.”
UCI researchers have shared more information about circadian rhythms, too.
A press release about the new research said that “circadian rhythms are intrinsically sensitive to light/dark signals,” so they can be easily disrupted by exposure to light at night, and the level of disruption appears to be gender dependent and change with age. . “
They added, “One example of this is the hormonal response to CRD felt in pregnant women; both the mother and fetus can experience the clinical effects of CRD and chronic stress.”
Scientists also believe that age is an important factor as well; CRD can affect the onset of aging-related mental disorders among the elderly.
“An interesting issue that we looked at is the interaction between circadian rhythms and mental disorders with sex,” Baldi said. “For example, Tourette’s syndrome is found primarily in males, and Alzheimer’s disease is more common in females by about two-thirds to one-third.”
Scientists also believe that age is an important factor as well; The UCI team notes that CRD can influence the onset of aging-related mental disorders among older adults.
Al-Ashar also noted the challenges of testing the team’s hypothesis “at the cellular level” in the release.
The UCI-led UCI team proposes examining CRD using “transcriptomic (gene expression) and metabolic techniques in mouse models,” according to the release.
“This will be a high-throughput process where researchers get samples from healthy and sick people every few hours along the daily cycle,” Baldi said in a press release.
He continued, “This approach can be applied with limitations in humans, as only blood serum samples can really be used, but it can be widely applied in animal models, especially mice, by sampling tissues from different brain regions and different organs, in addition to serum “.
If the experiments are conducted “in a systematic manner with respect to age, gender, and brain regions” to investigate the circadian molecular rhythm “before and during disease progression, it will help the mental health research community identify potential biomarkers, causal relationships, and new therapeutic targets and avenues.”