How did I manage to mess things up so badly

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If you’ve been feeling down lately you may need to make one change: when you sleep.

Messing with your body’s internal clock can cause more issues than just tiredness and irritability. A recent, United Kingdom-based study evaluated how disrupting the body’s clock affected depression, loneliness, mood and overall health.

The study, which included over 90,000 people, examined how everyday activities such as working, talking, and sleeping at night were affected when there was no clear difference between night and day. Researchers found that when day and nightlife commingled—even slightly— people were presented with major depression, bipolar disorder, mood instability, and loneliness. Participants also had slower reaction times to stimuli.

Disrupted clocks, however, are not necessarily the “cause’’ of mood swings or depression. Such problems usually already existed and were exacerbated by the disruption, causing a  dangerous cycle—sleep schedule affects the health problem then the problem disrupts your body clock, repeat.

The good news is that experts determined that people can rejigger their inner clocks with routine. Having set times to begin and end your day, eat meals, and perform activities are the first ways to reset your body’s clock. Experts also suggest that people keep in mind that body functions are optimized with light, specifically in the morning. They suggest engaging in physical activities, from working to exercising, during the day and not late at night when the body and mind should be in rest mode. Another way to combat the feeling of loneliness is social interaction. Socializing has a great effect on your health, including resetting your clock.

Whether you’re feeling down or simply want to stay up, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule that is directly connected to your internal clock will help you look, feel, and perform better.

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