Waking earlier every day may be as good as meds to help you feel less depressed

A huge genetic analysis of 840,000 people that was recently published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry has concluded that waking just one hour earlier every day might reduce a person’s risk of major depression by 23%, which is very comparable to the lowered rate of depression from taking meds for that condition.

And even better, with a 2-hour-earlier wake-up, that rate of depression, this study claims, goes down by a whopping 40 %, according to the genetic analysis based on people’s records of when they sleep and when they wake.

The best way to do get to this earlier waking if you’re a confirmed night-owl, this research claims, is to try to go to bed at least one hour earlier every night.

The example the researchers offer is “if someone who normally goes to bed at 1 a.m. goes to bed at midnight instead and sleeps the same duration, they could cut their risk (of major depression) by 23%; if they go to bed at 11 p.m., they could cut it by about 40%.”

Will it work for you?

Only one way to find out, although clearly changing one’s long-term habits takes a lot of persistence.

As an aside, if you happen to have a spouse who very often nods off at 9 PM (like someone I know has), the great news is that she is very likely to never get depressed.