Depression, a fairly common mood disorder, is a major influencer of health and wellness. Recent research has found a link between depression and sleep timing and preferences. The reports suggest that an individual who wakes up an hour earlier than usual has a significantly decreased depression risk. These results could help a person improve their mental health by fixing their sleep cycle.
The Link Between Sleep And Mood
Previous studies have found an association between sleep timing and mood. Further insights from these studies have shown that night owls are twice as likely to suffer from depression as early risers regardless of their sleep duration.
Another study showed that early risers were up to 27% less likely to develop depression over the years. But, additional research is needed to examine the genetic and environmental factors and understand the relationship between sleep and mood disorders.
12-24% of our sleep timing is influenced by genetics. Researchers have found over 340 genetic changes that play a role in a person’s chronotype - morning or evening person.
Mood disorders can disrupt sleep cycles; hence researchers have been working on finding a causal relationship between them. These findings could hold significant implications for improving mental health.
Waking just one hour earlier cuts depression risk by 23%
A genetic study led by Iyas Daghlas M.D aimed to understand the protective nature of sleep schedule shifts.
The study was conducted with data of up to 850,000 individuals from UK-based Biobank and DNA testing company 23andMe - 85,000 who had worn wearable sleep trackers for seven days and 250,000 who had filled out sleep-preference questionnaires.
A third of this group self-identified as morning larks, and only 9% were night owls; the rest were somewhere in the middle.
The study also used a different sample consisting of genetic information along with surveys about diagnoses of major depressive disorders and anonymized medical and prescription records.
The results of the study suggest that scheduling your sleep an hour early can reduce your risk of major depressive disorder by 23%. Further, going to bed 2 hours early can cut down the risk by 40%!
The study also lays down a possible explanation that could explain this result. Going to bed early makes it easier to wake up early in the day. This could mean longer exposure to the daylight, which has a positive impact on mood. Others seem to suggest that having a biological clock that differs from most people can itself be depressing.
Recommendations to become an early riser
- Practice going to bed early. Research suggests that an early bedtime improves academic performance and cognitive thinking.
- Start waking up a little earlier than you did the day before. Studies have linked early risers to increased physical activity and improved attention.
- Motivate yourself to wake up early with a planned schedule. Studies have reported an association between the motivational state of mind and the sleep cycle of an individual.
- Reward yourself when you wake up early. Studies have linked the reward system to learning behavior and improved wellness.
- Depression, a mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, is usually linked to lack of sleep and other factors like family history, stress, etc.
- Previous studies indicate a link between sleep timing and mood. Further research on this revealed that night owls are more likely to suffer from depression than early birds.
- A genetic study was conducted on 850,000 individuals to understand the causal relationship between sleep schedule and depressive disorders.
- Researchers identified around 340 common genetic variants which influence an individual’s sleep preference and time.
- Findings of the study suggest that waking up an hour earlier reduces your risk of depression by 23%.