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By Michelle Darrisaw
You may want to rethink hitting your snooze button in the morning. According to a new study, the time you decide to rise and shine could impact your overall mental and physical health.
Jacqueline Lane, an instructor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, recently conducted a sleep study and published her findings in the Nature Communicationsjournal. In an interview with TODAY, the professor revealed that early risers are essentially happier and healthier than nighthawks. Lane observed that those who wake up early have a specific genetic component that lowers their risk of developing depression and chronic illnesses.
“Individuals who tend to be happier tend to be morning-type individuals,” Lane said.
The population sample for the study was comprised of two groups: 250,000 people in the U.S. who used the DNA and ancestry services of biotech company, 23andMe and 450,000 people in the U.K. who enrolled in the biorepository Biobank across the pond. Lane and her team of researchers used sleep timing measures to evaluate circadian biology as it relates to genes.
They separated the group by those who identify as morning people and those who can’t pry themselves away from Netflix at night (or, ya know, just go to bed late in general). From there, Lane and her associates examined their genomes to determine the relationship between their genes and their preferred wake-up time and how it connects to their health. And what they found was pretty interesting.
“We show that being a morning person is causally associated with better mental health but does not affect body mass index or risk of Type 2 diabetes,” stated Lane in the study’s results.
“There is also a link between evening preference and a higher risk of schizophrenia (and depression),” she explained to TODAY.
But don’t think that just because you don’t hit the hay as soon as the sun goes down that you’re at risk for developing a mental health disorder.
“It is incredibly complicated,” she added. “The genetics about being a night owl is only part of it. It is more about environment, with living out of sync with your internal clock. Trying to change a night owl to a morning lark has serious health consequences.”
Still, Lane admitted more research needs to be done on how our genes are affected by our sleep cycles. However, it couldn’t hurt to set your alarm to get up a tad earlier.
“Understanding if you are a morning or evening person can really impact the schedule you choose,” Lane said. “It might determine when you choose activities or the timing of your meals.
So, now you know there’s a quasi-scientific reason why all the those morning people in your life tend to wake up so darned peppy.