Many people find it difficult to wake up early and are even sometimes amazed at those who have a habit of getting up at dawn. But findings from a new study show that early risers may have fewer mood disorders compared to people who sleep in on a regular basis. Early risers were also found to be at a lower risk for developing depression than individuals who got up late.
The study was conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the University of Colorado Boulder who decided to investigate the relationship between sleep-wake preferences and the risk of mental health problems. They looked at the data of participants from the Nurses Health Study II, which is a huge ongoing population study that is trying to identify risk factors for common chronic disorders in women. The researchers evaluated data from nearly 33,000 females with an average age of 55. All the participants were free of depression at the start. The researchers reported their health status through questionnaires two years apart (in 2011 and 2013).
Several environmental factors were also taken into account such as work schedule and exposure to light on the individual’s sleep-wake cycle. Researchers also assessed other risk factors for depression like sedentary lifestyle, weight, sleep duration and presence of any chronic illness. Among the 33,000 participants, about 37% stated that they were early risers and ten percent said they slept in late. The other 53 percent said they fell in between these two categories.
The researchers made two observations based on these data. First, they noted that the late risers were more likely to reside on their own, smoked regularly, were more likely to be single and frequently reported irregular sleeping habits.
The second thing they observed was that even after accounting for all other factors, early risers had a much lower risk of depression while late risers were more likely to report depression.
What this study reveals is that depression is not only linked to genetic or environmental factors but is also related to internal factors like an individual’s sleep-wake cycle. How much light one gets also influences the risk of depression.
The bottom line is that if you want to avoid depression or mood swings, you should start developing good sleep habits. It is important to have a good sleep schedule and to get sufficient hours of sleep without waking up too late in the morning.