Disruptions in biological rhythms and sleep are a core aspect of mood disorders, with sleep and rhythm changes frequently occurring prior to and during mood episodes. Wrist-worn actigraphs are increasingly utilized to measure ambulatory activity rhythm and sleep patterns.
A comprehensive study using subjective and objective measures of sleep and biological rhythms was conducted in 111 participants (40 healthy volunteers [HC], 38 with major depressive disorder [MDD] and 33 with bipolar disorder [BD]). Participants completed 15-day actigraphy and first-morning urine samples to measure 6-sulfatoxymelatonin levels. Sleep and biological rhythm questionnaires were administered: Biological Rhythms Interview of Assessment in Neuropsychiatry (BRIAN), Munich Chronotype Questionnaire (MCTQ), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS). Actigraph data were analyzed for sleep and daily activity rhythms, light exposure and likelihood of transitioning between rest and activity states.
Mood groups had worse subjective sleep quality (PSQI) and biological rhythm disruption (BRIAN) and higher objective mean nighttime activity than controls. Participants with BD had longer total sleep time, higher circadian quotient and lower 6-sulfatoxymelatonin levels than HC group. The MDD group had longer sleep onset latency and higher daytime probability of transitioning from rest to activity than HCs. Mood groups displayed later mean timing of light exposure. Multiple linear regression analysis with BRIAN scores, circadian quotient, mean nighttime activity during rest and daytime probability of transitioning from activity to rest explained 43% of variance in quality-of-life scores. BRIAN scores, total sleep time and probability of transitioning from activity to rest explained 52% of variance in functioning (all p < 0.05).
Disruption in biological rhythms is associated with poorer functioning and quality of life in bipolar and MDD. Investigating biological rhythms and sleep using actigraphy variables, urinary 6-sulfatoxymelatonin and subjective measures provide evidence of widespread sleep and circadian system disruptions in mood disorders.