Can a Messed Up Circadian Rhythm Cause Depression?

Your circadian rhythm is your bodies way of naturally regulating when you fall asleep and wake up. A simpler way of looking at it is when it feels “right” to go to bed and when to wake up. This biological clock of sorts is extremely important because it controls many aspects of the body and mind. Speaking on cognition, your circadian rhythm can certainly affect your mood and for the worst if you don’t keep an eye on your sleep schedule.

A Disrupted Circadian Rhythm and Depression

This biological clock regulates many bodily functions and more relevant to mood, your perception of fatigue. So it’s no surprise that if you’ve tampered with the normal rhythm of going to sleep before midnight and waking up early in the morning you’ll feel the effects when it comes to mood. In other words, it’s certainly possible that a disrupted circadian rhythm can cause depression and low mood.

It’s only logical to expect a depressed mood if you are say, someone who’s time of going to sleep is significantly delayed. An extreme example of this would be somebody going to sleep at 6 am and then waking up in the early afternoon. By doing this you would be completely eliminating a vital chunk of the day where you would be exposed to natural sunlight aka the sun. The sun is nature’s mood brightener and is the best source of vitamin D.

Tampering with a normal circadian rhythm not only messes with your bodies ability to regulate the many bodily functions and hormones that this biological clock is in charge of, it also restricts you of vital sunlight. There’s two sides to this dilemma. And when you deprive yourself of sunlight you are depriving yourself of a crucial outside factor as far as tiring yourself at a natural time of the day. Sunlight provides vitamin D, vitamin D influences melatonin (hormone), and melatonin levels influence how tired you naturally get during the night.

A Simple Fix

It’s not far fetched at all to feel depressed from an irregular circadian rhythm. There’s a reason the majority of us wake up early and go to bed before midnight. If you suffer from an abnormal biological clock or are a “night owl” then you should know that there is a very simple fix for your sleep troubles. You’re not doomed forever and you won’t always have to deal with added depression.

What you’ll want to do is get yourself some melatonin. It’s an over the counter supplement used as a sleep aid and more specifically for jet lag, and wouldn’t you know it, messed up circadian rhythms. Taking a melatonin supplement at night will increase your natural levels of the hormone. This in turn will have you in bed at a decent time and will yield you a better chance of waking up at a more reasonable hour. It’s much easier to try to get to bed earlier than it is to try to wake up at a certain hour. Fix your sleep schedule to fit the status quo and you might find yourself in a brighter mood.


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