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Just A Night Owl Or Could There Be Other Issues?

Just A Night Owl Or Could There Be Other Issues?

Image source: flickr.com/photos/atoxinsocks

Symptoms of depression can include sleeplessness, but insomnia is much more than a few restless nights.

It is a serious condition that affects one’s daily activities and can impair functioning.

Our systems are naturally attuned and innately responsive to day and night activities, and the brain regulates this internal clock. A study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the U.S. shows interesting findings regarding brain activity and our inherent time regulation system.

Typically, people operate in sync with daylight hours, functioning on a schedule correlate to the available sunlight. This particular examination showed that the circadian rhythms can actually be different in the brains of people who are depressed.

Researchers studied the donated brains of depressed patients and non-depressed individuals. It was found that in looking at an image of a normal brain, the patterns of gene activity are predictable by what time of the day it is. However, in investigating the brains of individuals who were severely depressed or had major depressive disorder it was discovered that their time of day pattern was off and that there was actually a disruption of the brain genes.

Just A Night Owl Or Could There Be Other Issues?

Image source: pnas.org

The timing for daily tasks was off by hours because their internal clocks were offset. In comparing the brain images, the patterns in the brains from depressed individuals showed a flipped pattern in which daytime gene activity actually resembled a nighttime pattern, and the reversal was true as well.

They found this to be consistent, indicating that insomnia and sleep disorders may be considered as risk factors for depression. There are known links between depression and insomnia, but this study demonstrated that the circadian rhythms of individuals with depressive conditions may actually be altered at the gene level, showing the atypical time pattern.

These findings are important in helping to further understand effective treatment options for mood disorders, and for learning more about what effects they can have on daily living.

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