Catching enough Z’s? Why your sleep choices could heighten your risk for depression and anxiety

Catching enough Z’s? Why your sleep choices could heighten your risk for depression and anxiety

Catching enough Z’s?Why your sleep choices could heighten your risk for depression and

Are you staying up until the wee hours of the morning watching Younger? Or will you be between the sheets by 8 p.m.?
We know that women's sleep patterns are extremely varied and that this is influenced by a variety of factors such as balancing work and family life, excess mental load, and hormones. However, according to a new study published this week, your sleep patterns may influence your risk of depression, so it may be time to take a different approach.
The study, which used sleep data collected from wrist activity monitors worn by over 85,000 participants in the UK, discovered that people with a misaligned sleep cycle were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and a lack of well-being.

The Night Owls.

Researchers compared sleep data to mood self-reports to reveal the reality of health issues associated with being a "night owl."
Night owls, according to sleep specialist Kristen Knutson, live in "a morning person's world," which causes disruption in their body's circadian rhythms.
Knutson, an Associate Professor of Neurology and Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, believes the study's "novel and important finding" is that those who enjoy getting up early are less likely to have irregular sleep timing than night owls.

The early risers

However, it's possible that those who get up early have less depression because they get more sunlight.
"Those who are morning types have more light exposure, which may be reduced in those who have more sleep variability. Indeed, bright light therapy is used to treat some types of depression, according to Knutson.
"Circadian misalignment may also result in insufficient sleep duration and quality, which may impair mood and exacerbate mood disorders."

Social Jet Lag

"If you're a morning person, you're less likely to be depressed and more likely to report a higher level of well-being," Tyrrell explained. "This may be due in part to the fact that morning people are less likely to experience ‘social jet lag.'"
"Social jet lag" occurs when we sleep later and wake up later on weekends than we do on weekdays when we have to get up for work," she added.
"It's a term derived from the jet lag we experience when travelling between time zones, but social jet lag is the "result of a discrepancy between an individual's own biological rhythm and the daily timing determined by social constraints."

What does the study conclude? 

Dr. Jessica Tyrrell, the study's lead author, believes that going against our internal body clock is strongly linked to depression, and that "having a higher misalignment was associated with higher odds of depression."
Dr. Tyrrell, a senior lecturer at the University of Exeter Medical School in the United Kingdom, discovered a link between depression and sleep cycles as well, "...although the strongest evidence comes from shift workers," Tyrrell said. "Some studies indicate that these people have a higher prevalence of depression and a lower level of well-being."

However, this study, like many others, can only show a link between behaviour and condition, not cause and effect. It's possible that people with depression have more irregular sleep schedules, according to the study's authors, but more research is needed to confirm this.
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