Natural early risers are happier and less prone to depression than night owls who have to defy their biological clocks to get to work on time, study suggests
- Study Suggests Natural Morning People May Protect Against Depression
- Night owls who defy the biological clock by getting up earlier are also at risk for depression
- Just under two-thirds of people thrive on getting up early and sleeping earlyen
Those who consider themselves natural early risers have long touted its purported benefits — whether it’s feeling alert or getting more work done during the day.
But now a study suggests that if you really are a natural morning person, you may be happier and protected from depression.
And night owls who defy their biological clocks by getting up earlier than they want for work are at greater risk for depression and have lower well-being.
Just under two-thirds of humans are “larks” who do well if they get up early and go to bed at a sensible time.
A study suggests that if you truly are a natural morning person, you may be happier and better protected against depression
More than 450,000 middle-aged volunteers described themselves as night owls or larks, preferred a time to wake up and completed a questionnaire about their mental health. Their levels of depression, anxiety and well-being were then compared.
Experts can also figure out who naturally got up early by looking at their genes — since larks’ genes are slightly different. Researchers at the University of Exeter looked at 351 genetic variants to accurately identify morning people.
Those with an early bird genetic profile were 8 percent less likely to have depression and 5 percent more likely to have high levels of well-being compared to night owls — possibly because their sleep times on weekdays and weekends were largely similar.
And those who described themselves as larks were 21 percent less likely to suffer from depression than those described as night owls, who were more likely to stay up late and sleep in on the weekend compared to the week – leaving them “jet lagged.” associated with unhappiness and depression.
Just under two-thirds of humans are ‘larks’ who do well if they get up early and go to bed at a sensible time
The study looked at 451,025 people aged 40 to 60 from the UK Biobank database. By tracking the sleep of more than 50,000 people, it found out whether people were forced to deviate from their natural sleep patterns.
Larks were less likely to be misaligned — with a greater difference in when they went to sleep and when they woke up on the weekend — which could explain why they’re more likely to escape depression and unhappiness, the authors said.
Jessica O’Loughlin, lead author of the study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, said the findings were “the most robust evidence to date that a morning person is depressed and improves well-being.”
Miss O’Loughlin added: ‘We think this could be explained by the fact that society’s demands mean night owls are more likely to defy their natural biological clocks by getting up early for work.’