Middle-Aged Female Early Risers May Have Less Risk of Depression

Posted on June 23, 2018

Middle-aged and older women who are naturally early to bed and early to rise may be less likely to develop depression, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder and the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston evaluated the data of more than 32,000 female nurses. The study is the largest and most detailed observational study yet to investigate the association between chronotype (sleep-wake preference) and mood disorders.

The women were followed for four years to see if anyone developed depression. Depression risk factors such as body weight, physical activity, chronic disease, sleep duration, or night shift work were also taken into account. The findings show that late chronotypes, or night owls, are less likely to be married, more likely to live alone and be smokers, and more likely to have erratic sleep patterns.

The findings reveal that even after taking into account environmental factors such as light exposure and work schedules, a person’s chronotype — which is partly determined by genetics — appears to mildly influence depression risk. Results show a modest link between chronotype and depression risk, which could be related to the overlap in genetic pathways associated with chronotype and mood.

Genetics are partly responsible for whether you are an early bird, intermediate type, or night owl, with research showing 12 to 42 percent heritability. And some research has found that certain genes which influence when we prefer to rise and sleep, also affect depression risk. Alternatively, when and how much light you get also influences chronotype, and light exposure also influences depression risk. However, while the study does suggest that chronotype can factor into depression risk, it does not mean that night owls are doomed to be depressed.


Source material from PsychCentral

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