Waking up just one hour earlier could reduce a person’s risk of major depression by 23%, suggests a sweeping new genetic study published May 26 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
The study of 840,000 people, by researchers at University of Colorado Boulder and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, represents some of the strongest evidence yet that chronotype — a person’s propensity to sleep at a certain time — influences depression risk.
It’s also among the first studies to quantify just how much, or little, change is required to influence mental health.
As people emerge, post-pandemic, from working and attending school remotely — a trend that has led many to shift to a later sleep schedule — the findings could have important implications.
“We have known for some time that there is a relationship between sleep timing and mood, but a question we often hear from clinicians is: How much earlier do we need to shift people to see a benefit?” said senior author Celine Vetter, assistant professor of integrative physiology at CU Boulder. “We found that even one-hour earlier sleep timing is associated with significantly lower risk of depression.”