Could Adjusting Your Alarm Clock Fight Depression?

Even mild depression can be hard to kick, but for some people, the cure may be as simple as setting the alarm clock an hour or two earlier and adjusting their sleep cycles.

In a recently published study, 32,470 depression-free female participants with an average age of 55 were given questionnaires—one in 2009, 2011, and 2013. To start, 37 percent called themselves early risers, 10 percent night owls, and 53 percent somewhere moderate in between.

Accounting for other physical and environmental factors that could affect their sleep cycle and depression risk, the 4 year study found that early birds had a 12-27 percent reduced risk of depression than even the participants who deemed themselves as moderate, which is pretty significant.

Following suit, those who prefer to sleep in later had a six percent greater risk for developing depression than moderate risers. And while this isn’t that significant of a difference in comparison to moderate risers, early risers still to have the upper hand, statistically, in terms of reduced depression risk.

Why do early risers have a lower risk of depression?

Sleep cycle and mood are actually very closely linked genetically, according to the lead author of the study. So one hypothesis is that a genetic form of depression could also encourage night owl sleeping habits.

Robin with worm

Another theory looks at a specific thread that ties this entire study together: light. The quantity and type of light you get when you go to bed and wake up has a strong effect on your sleep cycle. Think late-night blue light from tech disrupting sleep cycles and early morning sunlight hitting your face helping you wake up more easily.

Depression has some major ties to light, as we see in Seasonal Affective Disorder. It seems like the type, timing, and quality of light you expose yourself to has a pretty profound effect on your mood and sleep!

Of course, if you sleep in late on the regular, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should worry about developing depression down the line. And conversely, early risers shouldn’t feel immune. We are all unique, so do what feels right to your body, and know that you can always alter your sleep cycles (with a little bit of patience) to better suit your life.

If we learn anything from this study, it’s that it’s probably a good idea to let a little morning sunlight hit your face, whether it’s 6am or 11am.

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76 comments

Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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hELEN h
hELEN h9 months ago

Tyfs

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Richard E Cooley
Richard E Cooley9 months ago

Thank you.

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JoAnn P
JoAnn Paris9 months ago

Thank you for this very interesting article.

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Jenny G
Jenny G9 months ago

My partner has depression and is an early riser. I would give anything to cure him!

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Toni W
Toni W9 months ago

TYFS

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Toni W
Toni W9 months ago

TYFS

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Ann B
Ann B9 months ago

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara9 months ago

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara9 months ago

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