Get Out of Bed on Purpose!
Research has found that people who are naturally early to bed and early to rise may have a lower risk of depression than those who are night owls.
This research is the largest and most detailed observational study yet to look at the link between chronotype, an individual’s own natural preference for when they prefer to sleep and when they feel more awake and active and mood disorders.
Depression risk factors such as body weight, physical activity, chronic disease, sleep duration, or night shift work were also assessed, and the subjects were followed for a 4-year period in total.
All of the subjects were free of depression at the start of the study.
The responses showed that 37% described themselves as early chronotypes, 53% described themselves as intermediate chronotypes, and 10% described themselves as late chronotypes.
The late chronotypes, aka night owls, were less likely to be married, more likely to live alone, more likely to smoke, and more likely to have erratic sleep patterns.
After taking into account these factors, the team found that early risers still had a 12-27% lower risk of being depressed than intermediate chronotypes.
Late chronotypes also had a 6% higher risk of depression than intermediate types, however the researchers noted that this increase was modest and not statistically significant.
As the researchers factored in various influencing factors the results suggest that chronotype, which is partly determined by genetics appears to mildly influence depression risk.
Previous studies have also found that certain genes which influence our sleep-wake preference may influence depression risk.
However, lead author Céline Vetter stressed that the findings do not mean night owls will definitely develop depression. “Yes, chronotype is relevant when it comes to depression but it is a small effect,” she says, noting that her study found a more modest effect than previous ones have.
A large-scale UK study published earlier this year also found that disrupting the body’s natural rhythm, for example by working night shifts or suffering repeated jetlag, could increase the risk of mood disorders, feelings of unhappiness, severe depression, and bipolar disorder, and also lead to a decline in cognitive functions such as memory and attention span.
The findings can be found published online in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.
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