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Earlier Sleep Cycles Associated with Lower Risk of Depression: Study

A one-hour shift to an earlier sleep schedule could reduce your risk of major depression by 23%, according to one study.

A team of researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard published results in JAMA Psychiatry last week based on de-identified genetic data from 840,000 people in the UK Biobank and 23andMe, including about 85,000 people who use sleep trackers for one Week and 250,000 participants in questionnaires on sleep preferences.

The results provide “some of the strongest evidence yet that chronotype – a person’s tendency to sleep at a given time – affects depression risk,” a press release from CU Boulder said.


“We’ve known for some time that there is a relationship between sleep time and mood, but one question we often hear from clinicians is, ‘How much sooner do we have to move people to see any benefit?'” Senior- Author Celine Vetter, assistant professor of integrative physiology at CU Boulder, said in a press release. “We found that falling asleep an hour earlier is associated with a significantly lower risk of depression.”

To switch to an earlier sleep schedule, researchers recommend dimming the electronics in the evening.

To switch to an earlier sleep schedule, researchers recommend dimming the electronics in the evening.

According to CU Boulder, “genetics together explain 12-42% of our sleep-timing preference.”

Data from sleep trackers and questionnaires helped researchers understand how variants in genes play a role in sleep cycles. Of those who took surveys, nearly a third were identified as early risers, 9% were night owls, and the rest were identified in the middle range.

On average, people went to bed at 11 p.m. and woke up at 6 a.m., giving a so-called mid-sleep of 3 a.m. Researchers found that genetically predisposed early risers had a significantly lower risk of depression. In particular, the results showed that shifting the sleep centers an hour earlier reduced the risk of major depressive disorder by 23%.


“If someone who normally goes to bed at 1am instead goes to bed at midnight and sleeps for the same length of time, they could reduce their risk by 23%; if he goes to bed at 11pm it could cut it by about 40%. ”the publication reads.

Some evidence suggests that increased daytime light exposure triggers mood-dependent hormones, while others, according to the university, say that a different circadian rhythm or sleep-wake cycle can be depressing in and of itself.

“We live in a society designed for morning people, and evening people often feel like they are constantly out of line with this social clock,” said Iyas Daghlas, lead author and recent graduate of Harvard Medical School, in the publication. He stressed that more studies are needed to confirm a random association between an earlier sleep cycle and a reduced risk of depression.


“But this study definitely shifts the weight of evidence towards a causal effect of sleep timing on depression,” he said.

It’s also unclear whether early risers could further reduce the risk of depression by adjusting their sleep cycles, but researchers say bedtime earlier might be beneficial for night owls or those who fall into the middle class. To switch to an earlier schedule, senior writer Vetter says, “Keep your days bright and your nights dark. Have your morning coffee on the porch. Walk or bike to work when you can, and dim.” The electronics in the evening. “

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