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5MinuteConsult Journal Club 

Waking One Hour Earlier Lowers Depression Risk


JAMA Psychiatry.May 26, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2021.0959;

Study Summary

To determine the influence of sleep on the development of depression, researchers used de-identified data of over 850,000 people from the UK Biobank and “23 and me” databases.  They looked for the influence of the PER2 gene (which affects sleep/wake preferences) on outcomes.  About 30% considered themselves morning persons, while 9% were those who stayed up late; the rest were somewhere in between.  They then correlated each person’s “Sleep Mid-Point” (the half way point of their sleep cycle) and wake times with risk of developing depression.  The average sleep mid-point was 3 AM.

Using some interesting statistical tools, they found for each hour earlier someone rises in the morning, they lower their risk of developing depression.  Even if they do not sleep more hours, they lower their risk by a relative risk reduction of over 20%.

The authors theorize this benefit may come from great light exposure during the day which can alter hormonal release and benefits from alterations in circadian rhythm. This was observational data, and a randomized trial should follow.

But for now, encourage those at risk for depression or those already with depression to get up earlier and get out into the sunlight.


Rising out of bed one hour earlier correlates with a lower depression risk.

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Contributed by Frank J. Domino, MD, July 7, 2021