Waking Up an Hour Earlier Could Significantly Reduce Your Risk of Depression, Study Finds

Depression has no one “cure”. It has treatments; people can experience a remission, of such; symptoms can be alleviated, but there is no single cure. Now, we’re not saying that to depress you — pardon the pun — but to let you know the situation around this specific mental illness.

Why? So we can get into this latest study around depression, that’s actually pretty fascinating. Coming out of the University of Colorado, and published in Jama Psychiatry, a new genetic study that looked at 840,000 people found that shifting sleep time earlier by just an hour decreases the risk of major depression by double digits — 23%.

It also, according to Science Daily, presents “some of the strongest evidence yet” that a person’s propensity to sleep at a certain time — something called chronotype — influences the risk of depression. Moreso, it actually quantifies just how much — or in this case, just how little — change is required to influence mental health.

Senior author of the study, Celine Vetter said that it has been known for some time that there’s a relationship between sleep timing and mood, but the question has always been “how much earlier do we need to shift people to see a benefit?” Her answer: “Even one-hour earlier sleep timing is associated with significantly lower risk of depression.”

Particularly, the study looked at sleep “mid-point”. As in, if you go to bed at 11pm and wake up at 6am, the average sleep mid-point ends up being 3am. What they found was that each one-hour earlier sleep midpoint — halfway between bedtime and wake time — corresponded with a 23% lower risk of major depressive disorder.

So if you usually fall asleep at 1 am, aim for 12am — and sleep the same duration. You’ll cut your risk by 23%. Aim even earlier for 11pm, and you could cut it by about 40%, suggests the study.

If you’re wanting to change your sleep midpoint, and shift your sleep schedule earlier, Vetter suggests keeping days bright and nights dark. As in, “have your morning coffee on the porch. Walk or ride your bike to work if you can, dim those electronics in the evening.”

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