According to a new study, middle-aged and older women who tend to wake up and go to sleep early are less prone to depression. In previous research linking depression and sleep-wake patterns, there was a classic “chicken or the egg” problem: It wasn’t clear whether being a night owl could contribute to depression or depression itself was making people stay up later. But this study showed that early birds have a 12 to 27 percent lower risk of developing the mood disorder compared with “intermediate” sleepers (not too early, not too late). Night owls were 6 percent more likely to develop depression than intermediate sleepers. Your sleep-wake patterns, known as your chronotype, are partially determined by genetics, but that doesn’t mean you’re locked in to early bird or night owl status. If you’re a night owl trying to shift to an earlier schedule, try gradually tweaking your bedtime and wake time. Getting lots of natural light, especially in the morning, may help to shift your body clock and boost your mood.
“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Benjamin Franklin/Mathew Henry