Sunlight is antidote to obsessive-compulsive disorder

Do you have obsessive-compulsive disorder? New research may direct you to retire in a sunny spot.

A study at Binghamton University in New York and published in the Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, found that those people who live in shady areas are more likely to develop OCD or make it worse.

The findings come after researchers at the university studied stories and reports about OCD, and noted the location of each case. They noticed a pattern: people who live in higher latitudes (areas with less sunlight) are more likely to have an off-sleep pattern, and thus throwing off their internal clocks. The sleep cycle is interrupted in these areas because a person may not be able to fall asleep when they need to, and “often times, they will then sleep in very late in order to compensate for that lost sleep, thus adopting a delayed sleep-wake pattern that may have adverse effects on their symptoms,” a press release said.

When a sleep cycle is disrupted, a person loses his or her natural exposure to morning light, which is a crucial part of the day. “People who live in areas with less sunlight may have less opportunities to synchronize their circadian clock, leading to increased OCD symptoms,” said Meredith Coles, a professor of psychology at Binghamton. “The results of this project are exciting because they provide additional evidence for a new way of thinking about OCD.”

The university plans additional research to determine if persons suffering from OCD can be treated with exposure to more sunlight.

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