Middle-to-older aged women who are naturally early to bed and early to rise are significantly less likely to develop depression, according to researchers at University of Colorado Boulder and the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
The study, that published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research included more than 32,000 female nurses, explored the link between chronotype, or sleep-wake preference, and mood disorders.
It showed that even after accounting for environmental factors like light exposure and work schedules, chronotype – which is in part determined by genetics – appears to mildly influence depression risk.
“Our results show a modest link between chronotype and depression risk. This could be related to the overlap in genetic pathways associated with chronotype and mood,” said lead author Celine Vetter.
The researchers found that late chronotypes, or night owls, are less likely to be married, more likely to live alone and be smokers, and more likely to have erratic sleep patterns.
After accounting for these factors, they found that early risers still had a 12 – 27 percent lower risk of being depressed than intermediate types. Late types had a 6 percent higher risk than intermediate types (this modest increase was not statistically significant.)
Genetics play a role in determining whether you are an early bird, intermediate type, or night owl, with research showing 12-42 percent heritability. And some studies have already shown that certain genes (including PER2 and RORA), which influence when we prefer to rise and sleep, also influence depression risk.
“Alternatively, when and how much light you get also influences chronotype, and light exposure also influences depression risk. Disentangling the contribution of light patterns and genetics on the link between chronotype and depression risk is an important next step,” Vetter said.
Vetter stressed that while the study suggested that chronotype was an independent risk factor for depression, it did not mean night owls were doomed to be depressed.
“Being an early type seems to beneficial, and you can influence how early you are” she said. “Try to get enough sleep, exercise, spend time outdoors, dim the lights at night, and try to get as much light by day as possible.”
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Excess use of social media may lead to depression and loneliness
Excessive use of social media like Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram could lead to depression and loneliness as this habit is associated with poor well-being,researchers have warned.
A new study, being published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, showed that limiting screen time on these apps could boost one’s wellness.
The study has tried to look into the causal side of things, and see whether people may actually feel better when they cut down on social media.
“Our findings strongly suggest that limiting social media use to approximately 30 minutes per day may lead to significant improvement in well-being,” the authors concluded.
“When you are not busy getting sucked into clickbait social media, you are actually spending more time on things that are more likely to make you feel better about your life,” said Melissa Hunt, associate director of clinical training at the University of Pennsylvania in the US.
For the study, researchers from the varsity, included 143 undergraduate participants. The team designed their experiment to include the three platforms most popular with the participants.
They monitored the students for a week to get a baseline reading of their social media use, and gave them questionnaires that assessed their well-being according to seven different factors: social support, fear of missing out (aka FOMO), loneliness, autonomy and self-acceptance (a measure of psychological well-being), anxiety, depression, and self-esteem.
They collected objective usage data automatically tracked by iPhones for active apps, not those running in the background, and asked respondents to complete a survey to determine mood and well-being.
“Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness. These effects are particularly pronounced for folks who were more depressed when they came into the study,” Hunt told Science Daily.
The researchers chose to limit social media, rather than have subjects stop using it altogether, because it was a more realistic option, she noted.