Are Early Risers Less Prone to Depression?

Being early to rise not only is known as a habit that makes one “healthy, wealthy and wise”, but new research finds that waking up one hour earlier is associated with a reduced risk for developing depression. 

According to a recent post, a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry has found that early risers are 23 percent less likely to suffer from major depression. 

As a result of sheltering at home for the past year, many people have experienced changes in sleep habits along with more reports of depression and anxiety.  But as the world begins to open up and lives return to a more normal state, it is also a good opportunity to check in with sleep patterns and consider if shifting to an earlier waking time may improve mood. 

Research suggests that early birds are exposed to more sunlight during the day which can have a positive effect on mood.  By staying in sync with others, rather than burning the midnight oil alone, people are less likely to feel isolated and depressed. 

Although shifting waking time two hours was found to cut the risk for depression by 40 percent, it may take time to gradually adjust to an earlier rising time.  It helps to get moving shortly after waking and if possible, go outdoors for some natural sunlight.  Enjoying a morning coffee or tea on the patio, or at least near a bright window can help regulate the circadian rhythm.  

To help support a good night’s sleep, try to keep lights dim in the evening and turn off any devices an hour before bedtime.  Good sleep hygiene – an uncluttered, cool, dark bedroom and a relaxing evening routine avoiding alcohol and caffeine can also help encourage restful sleep.

Major depression affects about 11 percent of men and 16 percent of women in Canada at some point in their lives.  Symptoms of depression may include lethargy, detachment, indecision, hopelessness, or thoughts of suicide that usually last for two months or longer.   Depression can be treated, and there is help for people who suffer from mood disorders.   Follow this link to the Government of Canada Mental Health Services webpage for resources in Canada or visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services here.