Does your body naturally wake you up, or do you rely on the sounds and buzzes of several alarm clocks?
If you wake up naturally in the early morning, that means your body is in sync with your daily schedule. But if you’re a night owl, it could affect your daily mood and anxiety, according to a new study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
The study used sleep data gathered from wrist activity monitors worn by more than 85,000 participants in the UK Biobank Study, which tracks in-depth genetic and health information on more than half a million Brits.
According to the study’s findings, people who have an inconsistent sleep cycle — a trait usually associated with night owls — are more likely to report anxiety and depression.
“The health problems associated with being a night owl are likely a result of being a night owl living in a morning person’s world, which leads to disruption in their body’s circadian rhythms,” according to sleep specialist Kristen Knutson, an associate professor of neurology and preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Our sleep cycles also can change naturally as we age. So a morning person might not always have been so happy to wake up before sunrise.
“Generally, as we get older, our cycles shift toward the earlier hours,” says Dr. Neil Kline, a sleep physician who is a representative of the American Sleep Association. “Teens are more likely to be night owls, and octogenarians are more likely to be early risers.”
Data from the study showed there can be serious consequences to a skewed internal body clock. The higher the misalignment, the higher odds of depression, according to Dr. Jessica Tyrrell, who authored the study.
For morning people, there’s more good news.
“If you’re a morning person, then you are less likely to have depression and more likely to report a higher well-being,” according to Tyrrell. “This may in part be due to people who are morning people are less likely to have ‘social jet lag.’ ”
That’s when you have a different sleep schedule and routine on the weekends than during the week.
“Regardless of what our typical schedule is, when we sway from the schedule, we often don’t perform at our peak,” Kline says. “This can be demonstrated in jet lag. We are creatures of habit.”
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