Women who wake up early as they get older are less likely to develop depression than those who love a lie-in, according to research.
Scientists say exposure to daylight affects a person’s risk of becoming depressed, and women who wake up early have a 12 to 27 per cent lower chance.
A study of more than 32,000 women with an average age of 55 found those who describe themselves as evening or intermediate types are more likely to end up with the mental illness.
It is not a curse, however, and the scientists say people who like to sleep late can help reduce their risk by getting up earlier and seeing more daylight.
The research also found night owls are less likely to be married and more likely to live alone, be smokers, and have erratic sleep patterns – all of which could increase depression risk.
But the link between sleeping preference and depression still remains even when those factors are accounted for.
The research was done by scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
It is the largest ever study of its kind and studied the effect of a woman’s chronotype – what times a person prefers to sleep and wake up – on her risk of depression.
Researchers claim chronotype affects depression risk even when exposure to daylight and working schedules are taken out of the equation.
Depression thought to affect one in ten people
‘There might be an effect of chronotype on depression risk that is not driven by environmental and lifestyle factors,’ said lead study author and director of the university’s sleep lab, Céline Vetter.
Depression is a fairly common mental health problem which can affect anyone at any age.
Around one in ten people are thought to experience it at some point in their life, and it can cause people to feel upset and to lose interest in things they used to enjoy.
What is depression?
While it is normal to feel down from time to time, people with depression may feel persistently unhappy for weeks or months on end.
Depression can affect anyone at any age and is fairly common – approximately one in ten people are likely to experience at some point in their life.
Depression is a genuine health condition which people cannot just ignore or ‘snap out of it’.
Symptoms and effects vary, but can include constantly feeling upset or hopeless, or losing interest in things you used to enjoy.
It can also cause physical symptoms such as problems sleeping, tiredness, having a low appetite or sex drive, and even feeling physical pain.
In extreme cases it can lead to suicidal thoughts.
Traumatic events can trigger it, and people with a family history may be more at risk.
It is important to see a doctor if you think you or someone you know has depression, as it can be managed with lifestyle changes, therapy or medication.
Source: NHS Choices