If you have been wondering if your night owl lifestyle has been negatively impacting your mental health, according to a recent study, the answer may be yes. Morning people are often depicted as being happier and cheerier in the morning than those who have to be dragged out of bed in the mornings. As it turns out, this depiction may not be very exaggerated. Though the positive effects are becoming more commonly known, getting up earlier in the mornings is no simple change to make. Many of us have long standing habits that can be difficult to reroute without a lot of determination. Still, if dealing with depression, making efforts to change your sleep habits may be necessary.
Past Research on Depression and Sleeping Habits
Past studies were conducted that indicated a correlation between depression and unhealthy sleeping habits, such as staying up late; however, a causal relationship could not be established between the two. This is because there are several other factors, such as loneliness, that could contribute to a person’s mental and emotional state.
For example, people who wake up earlier may have other lifestyle habits that contribute to their elevated moods. They may have more time for a healthy breakfast, which is linked to better moods. Earlier risers may be using the morning hours to fit in a workout, which has also been proven to lower depressive symptoms. Yet again, it could be the increased exposure to morning light that made the difference. Simply put, it wasn’t possible to directly link the positive moods early birds reported directly to their sleep habits.
A newer study has allowed researchers to isolate and neutralize those confounding variables and analyze the self-reported moods as directly related to an individual’s sleep habits. Using a method called mendelian randomization, researchers are able to analyze large samples of people for certain genetic factors while also controlling for the genetic and behavioral variables that would ordinarily muddle the accuracy of the results.
In this case, researchers used genetic databases to analyze a sample of 800,000 people. There are genetic factors present at birth that influence whether a person is more likely to be a morning person or a night owl; this is indicated through their circadian rhythm. Participants’ self-reported sleep and wake times were verified through monitored laboratory sleep studies. This allowed researchers to further define the phrases “morning person” and “night owl”. They were able to track the average midpoint of sleep, a scientific gauge for assessing a person’s sleep tendencies, of each participant
Additionally, the databases contained participants’ diagnoses for major depressive disorder, positive or negative, as well as self-reported mood levels, which researchers ran against their sleep midpoints. They found that for every hour earlier a morning person’s midpoint of sleep, there was a 23% decrease in their likelihood for developing major depression.
While these findings do not necessarily mean that simply going to bed earlier will cure a person’s existing case of depression, this is a major breakthrough for mental health science as it brings unexplored diagnosis and treatment implications to the foreground. The next step will be conducting clinical trials to determine effective treatment interventions based on this relationship.
Tips For Getting To and Out of Bed Earlier
There are ways we can combat poor sleep habits and depression. Getting to bed earlier can be a chore for many, but the positive health benefits you are likely to incur as a result make hitting the hay a bit earlier an appealing lifestyle choice. A few ways you can hack your sleep cycle include:
Skip Late Night Snacks
It’s been shown that eating closer to your bedtime can adversely affect your body’s digestive system and sleep pattern. It can also contribute to weight gain. If you want to get a better night’s rest and wake up feeling more refreshed, try eating 2-3 hours before bed to give your food plenty of time to settle before you sleep. This will help protect against midnight stomach aches and pains that can disrupt sleep.
Exercise In the Evening
Exercising at any point in the day has been proven to have mood-boosting effects. If you are seeking ways to improve your mood and want to get to bed earlier, try penciling a workout session into your evenings. Exercising allows you to expend your extra energy in a productive and rewarding way and doing something positive with your time can help you feel more rested and peaceful at the end of a long day as well.
Read Before Bed
It’s common knowledge that endless scrolling before bed will have a negative impact on one’s sleep cycle. Still, many of us find ourselves glued to the devices until we eventually doze off. Tire your brain out and get to sleep sooner by swapping the brightly lit screen of your smart phone with some stimulating reading material. Reading is a stress-reducing activity that relaxes the mind and helps people get to sleep faster. If you want to be healthy, and wise, grab a book on your way to bed. An audiobook may also be effective.
Meditating Before Bed
Meditating is another great way to reduce your stress levels before going to sleep. The great thing about meditating is that it can be accomplished just about anywhere, and your bed makes an excellent location. Meditating can be simple and does not require any specialized training or assistance. There are a variety of guided meditations that you can try to help give your practice a bit more structure, however. Doing some deep breathing exercises in conjunction with conducting a full body scan can help you be more mindful, release tension, and focus more on your comfort – all of which help better prepare you for bed.
Take Depression Head on with Mid City TMS
If you are struggling with your mental health, moving your bedtime up may be enough to change the tides. It can be hard to change our daily habits, but when it comes to beating depression, doing so can make a world of difference. If you have tried making healthier changes to your lifestyle to help treat your depression to no avail, TMS may be the solution you need. Let Mid City TMS help you overcome your depression. TMS procedures have over 30 years of clinical research showing the positive effects it has in patients aiming to beat depression. Contact our experienced staff at Mid City TMS today to learn more about the wonders of TMS and how it can potentially help you tackle depression.