Study: Eating time affects our mood

People who work shifts usually have irregular sleep and eating habits. In this mode, eating habits can be developed that can increase the risk of anxiety and depression. This is stated in a new study by scientists from Boston, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In their work, scientists studying chronobiology, sleep, and circadian disorders have come to the conclusion that shift work and the lifestyle it causes can have a significant impact on mental well-being. To prove the connection, they modeled a shift lifestyle and closely monitored anxiety and mood scores in two dozen people.

They were all put into a regimen that recreated the effects of night work, which ended up shifting their circadian rhythms and inverting their behavioral cycles by 12 hours. Participants were then randomly assigned to either a day or night meal group designed to mimic the eating habits of shift workers.

By evaluating the participants’ symptoms of depression and anxiety, the researchers were able to evaluate the effects of different dietary patterns on mood. This revealed a notable difference between the two: those who ate in shift work had a 26% increase in depression and a 16% increase in anxiety. In people from the group working only during the daytime, no such changes were found.

These findings hold promise for using meal times to reduce mood vulnerabilities in shift workers or others suffering from jittery circadian rhythms, the researchers said. Although the results are promising and shed light on the role of sleep and diet in mental health, the study is small and considered only a proof of concept. More experimentation is needed further to really solidify the idea that mealtimes can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.

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