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ABOUT THE NETWORK

Our main goal

Our goal is to initiate and drive high value collaborative research at the intersection of mental health science and sleep/circadian science. Our network will work to:

  • identify priority areas for research,

  • establish standardised data collection and curation methods

  • launch new interdisciplinary collaborations

Our long-term goal is a sustainable and inclusive social infrastructure of researchers, clinicians and individuals with lived experience to drive innovation and impact in mental health and sleep/circadian science (chronopsychiatry).

Background

Circadian rhythms (endogenous 24-hour rhythms) are found across almost all forms of life, from plants to humans. These rhythms allow organisms to optimally align their physiology and behaviour to daily cycles of light and dark.

Well-synchronised circadian rhythms are fundamental for health and are extremely important for mental wellbeing. The correct timing of exposure to light is critical for keeping human circadian rhythms synchronised to the external environment. However, modern life is much more complex. Activities such as shift-working, excess artificial light at night and sleep-disrupting drugs can cause these internal rhythms to fall out of synchronization, resulting in both mental and physical health adverse outcomes.

Young people in particular may be more sensitive to this disruption and associated mental health problems.

NASA Earth Observatory and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, 2017

NASA

Why is this important?
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Many conditions have been associated with aberrant circadian rhythms affecting sleep/wake cycles, these include conditions such as: 

  • depression

  • bipolar disorder

  • psychosis

However, the mechanisms of these associations remain poorly understood.
Although many important discoveries regarding sleep and circadian rhythms have been made, there have been limited clinical applications of these in regards to mental health.
In general, the fundamental importance of healthy rhythms of sleep has historically been overlooked within public mental health initiatives.

Where does the Circadian Mental Health Network fit in?

The network will work with researchers, clinicians and individuals with lived experience of circadian rhythm disruption and mental health conditions to identify areas which should be a priority for research.

We aim to create open and transparent protocols for data handling to support collaboration in the field of circadian/sleep and mental health science. 

We hope to develop and support a community which can investigate the relationships between circadian rhythms/sleep and mental health in a way that will have the greatest impact for everyone.

Map of Universities involved in Circadian Mental Health Network
Our Network
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