The researchers found that a one-quintile reduction in relative amplitude correlated with increased risk of lifetime major depressive disorder and lifetime bipolar disorder (odds ratios, 1.06 and 1.11, respectively), as well as with greater mood instability (odds ratio, 1.02), higher neuroticism scores (incident rate ratio, 1.01), more subjective loneliness (odds ratio, 1.09), lower happiness (odds ratio, 0.91), lower health satisfaction (odds ratio, 0.90), and slower reaction times (linear regression coefficient, 1.75).
It was carried out by University of Glasgow researchers, who say disruption to normal circadian rhythms, which work on a 24-hour sleep/wake cycle, is associated with a greater susceptibility to mood disorders.
If the participants was highly active at late hours, or inactive during the day, this was classed as a disruption, Business Insider reports.
"How do we take account of our natural patterns of rest and activity and how do we design cities or jobs to protect people's mental health?"
They were also more likely to feel lonely and less happy.
"Given that most mental health disorders begin during adolescence, more longitudinal studies in younger populations might improve our understanding of causal mechanisms, and help find new ways to predict mood disorders and fine-tune treatments".
"Previous studies have identified associations between disrupted circadian rhythms and poor mental health, however, these were on relatively small samples".
He added it is advisable to avoid activities that disturb the circadian rhythm after 10pm, but that activities during the day were just as important, giving the example of being outside in the morning during the winter months.
However, the new study is the first to use objective measurements of daily activity and is among the largest of its kind, according to Aiden Doherty, senior research fellow at the University of Oxford, who was not involved in the research.
Individuals with lower relative amplitude were at greater risk of several adverse mental health outcomes, even after adjusting for confounding factors, such as age, sex, lifestyle, education and previous childhood trauma. Circadian rhythms occur in plants, animals and throughout biology.
Professor Smith added: 'There are a lot of things people can do, especially during the winter, such as getting out of the house in the morning to get exposed to light and take exercise, so that by evening they are exhausted.