Doing This Simple Hack Dramatically Lowers the Risk of Depression

Conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and Broad Institute of MIT, and Harvard

Doing This Simple Hack Dramatically Lowers the Risk of Depression
This hack lowers the risk of depression. Credit: Diego Lozano

Do you know anyone who is grumpy in the mornings? We do, and we are among those people as we barely get to sleep at night and hate waking up early in the morning. If you are also a late riser like us, then you better read on. A new study has revealed that if you want to avoid depression, you need to start waking up an hour early daily.


Depression and Sleep

This study was conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and Broad Institute of MIT, and Harvard. The findings of this study were published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry on May 26. The study discovered that your chronotype could have a direct relation to your risk of suffering due to depression.

For those who are unaware, your chronotype is stamped on you from your birth. Your genetics decide which of the four categories you belong to. These categories are lion, bear, wolf, or dolphin. Usually, which animal you associate with will help determine when you will be likely to wake up in the morning, when you will go to sleep, and when you will be more productive during any day.


To conduct this study, researchers studied the genetic data of about 850,000 individuals. It included data from about 85,000 people who chose to wear sleep trackers for seven days and data from about 250,000 people who filled out sleep-preference questionnaires. The key reason for taking such a large group is that the previous depression studies have either smoothed over the influence of mood disorders or used small participant groups.


The lead researcher of this depression study, Iyas Daghlas, M.D., opted to use the “Mendelian randomization” method that considers not just the measured variation in genes of known function but also the confounding factors on the results of an observational study.

ScienceDaily  adds, “More than 340 common genetic variants, including variants in the so-called ‘clock gene’ PER2, are known to influence a person’s chronotype, and genetics collectively explains 12-42% of our sleep timing preference.” 


The researchers used genetic information to seek the answer to whether people who are early risers have a low risk of depression or not. The answer was yes.

It was stated, “Each one-hour earlier sleep midpoint (halfway between bedtime and wake time) corresponded with a 23% lower risk of major depressive disorder.”

The suggests that if someone who normally goes to bed at 1 a.m. changes sleep pattern and goes to bed at midnight instead and sleep the same duration, they could decrease their risk of depression by 23%; if they go to bed earlier at 11 p.m., they could decrease it by approximately 40%.


So, what exactly causes that drop in risk of depression? It is quite logical. ScienceDaily states, “some research suggests that getting greater light exposure during the day, which early-risers tend to get, results in a cascade of hormonal impacts that can influence mood.”

Daghlas also concluded, “This study definitely shifts the weight of evidence toward supporting a casual effect of sleep timing on depression.”

Speaking of depression and mental health, read about this mental health hack shared by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.


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