Attention, night owls! THIS surprisingly simple hack might lower your risk of depression
(NaturalHealth365) Scientific research gives us a nearly unending list of sleep benefits, from helping you manage weight to reducing your risk of cancer and dementia. But if you knew that going to bed just one hour earlier could significantly reduce your risk of depression, would you be willing to bump your bedtime?
A recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry offers some inspiring evidence as to why this could be worth your while, especially if you’re already a night owl.
Shifting to an earlier bedtime could significantly lower depression risk
It’s already known that night owls (people who prefer to stay up and sleep in late) have double the risk of depression compared to larks (people who prefer to go to bed and wake up early). But this new study from JAMA Psychiatry offers some genetic insights as to why this may be so.
Called a Mendelian randomization analysis, the statistical technique used in the study assessed genetic data from more than 840,000 people. The goal? To assess whether the timing of sleep (rather than just quantity or quality) is associated with mood.
The researchers, who hail from the University of Colorado Boulder and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, discovered that people born with genetic variants predisposing them to be early risers are less likely to be depressed. Furthermore, the researchers hypothesized that going to bed just one hour earlier could lower a person’s risk of depression by a whopping 23%.
For people who have a family history of depression or other mood disorders, this simple, drug-free hack could prove extremely beneficial.
So, what’s the trick? Here are five ways to shift your bedtime one hour earlier
Going to bed and waking up at the same times every day is considered one of the best habits to improve sleep quality. But if you struggle to fall asleep at your earlier bedtime, you may end up just staring at the ceiling.
To help transition you to an earlier bedtime, try these five research-based techniques recommended by the likes of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
- Reduce or eliminate alcohol. Alcohol disrupts sleep quality and can cause you to feel groggy (if not outright hungover) in the morning.
- Reduce or eliminate caffeine, especially after the morning hours. Caffeine is a stimulant and stays in your system for hours— making that afternoon pick-me-up quickly turn into a nighttime keep-me-up.
- Use glasses that block blue light. Blue light emitted from digital devices stimulate a part of the brain that controls your sleep/wake cycle. Glasses coated with a blue-light locking film can keep this light away from your retinas and mitigate the harm of late-night TV and phone use.
- While you’re at it, power down your devices at least one hour before bedtime. Also, dim the lights throughout your house.
- In addition to keeping your nights dark, keep your mornings bright, as the lead author of the CU Boulder study says. HISGet into natural sunlight in the morning to help “reset” your body’s biological clock.
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