Wake up, sleepy heads! Morning people lower their risk of depression

Before you hit the snooze button again, read this: there’s increasing evidence that morning birds get ahead of night owls. If you wake up earlier, you might be happier, weigh less, and you may even be more likely to sleep better. And now we know that being a morning person could even help you feel less depressed.

Photo: Emma Simpson

Before you hit the snooze button again, read this: there’s increasing evidence that morning birds get ahead of night owls. If you wake up earlier, you might be happier, weigh less, and you may even be more likely to sleep better.

And now we know that being a morning person could even help you feel less depressed.

Women waking up earlier less likely to develop depression

When you wake up and go to bed can do lasting damage to your mental health. In a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, researchers found that your chronotype — whether you’re a morning bird or a night owl — had the power to influence your risk of depression if you are a middle to older-aged women.

Looking at the health of more than 30,000 U.S. nurses whose average age was 55, the researchers found that those extra hours made a difference when the researchers followed up four years later. Nurses who were morning people were up to 27% less likely to have developed depression than people with no specific chronotype.

This finding backs up other research on the power of our body clock. Recently, scientists have discovered that many of us are suffering under social jet lag, a “condition where our hours of peak alertness are in conflict with the social impositions of morning meetings, late-night networking, and other work demands scheduled outside of our control.”

If you are tired at work for seemingly no reason, you could have social jet lag. In general, you may want to get more sun to fight the effects of your internal clock being out of sync. Céline Vetter, the lead author behind the depression study, suggests that light could be a factor in why morning people showed less risk of depression.

“When and how much light you get also influences chronotype, and light exposure also influences depression risk,” she said. “Try to get enough sleep, exercise, spend time outdoors, dim the lights at night, and try to get as much light by day as possible.”

Monica Torres|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at mtorres@theladders.com.