By Matt Evans
Struggle to wake up? You're not alone: lots of us have difficulty rising early in the morning. Waking up early can be added to the list of simple lifestyle changes used to help beat back depression. In one study conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder, the data of 840,000 people, collected in different ways, were examined for signs of depression, and cross-referenced with their normal sleep patterns.
After studying the sample of data, the researchers found each one hour earlier "sleep midpoint", a point in time halfway between bedtime and wake up time, corresponded with a 23% lower risk of major depressive disorder. If someone goes to bed one hour earlier and sleeps the same amount, their risk of depression is lowered by almost a quarter. Cutting it by two hours leads to a reduction of around 40%.
You can wake up earlier in a fashion less disruptive to your circadian rhythms (and get your mood-boosting dose of vitamin D) with one of the best sunrise alarm clocks.
This neat device simulates sunlight, allowing you to wake up as if it was sunrise at a time of your choosing, and you can grab one for less in the Amazon Prime Day fitness deals:
Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock with Sunrise Simulation | was $49.99 | now $40.70
One of our best sunrise alarm clocks just got a 20% discount. Clinically proven to aid wellbeing, you can wake up to a sunrise and sleep to a slowly dimming "relax breath" light and soundscape, as "light-guided wind-down breathing" works with the light's sunset simulation.
Depression is a major problem, and one of the biggest "silent killers" of even young and healthy people. The WHO reports that depression affects more than more than 264 million people worldwide. It's a serious issue that can't always be solved with quick lifestyle fixes, and to pretend otherwise is disingenuous.
However, there's a popular quote attributed to actor Jim Carrey, which says "I believe depression is legitimate. But I also believe that if you don't exercise, eat nutritious food, get sunlight, get enough sleep, consume positive material, surround yourself with support, then you aren't giving yourself a fighting chance."
The study's senior author Celine Vetter said: "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?
"We found that even one-hour earlier sleep timing is associated with significantly lower risk of depression. Keep your days bright and your nights dark, have your morning coffee on the porch. Walk or ride your bike to work if you can, and dim those electronics in the evening."
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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