(AscendHealthy.com) – Our sleeping patterns can define a lot about us. They can predict certain personality traits and alter our sleep quality. They may even impact our mental health.
Research has now uncovered a connection between regular bedtimes and our chances of suffering from depression. We have details on the mental health difference between morning larks and night owls, as well as strategies to reduce the impacts of our sleeping preferences.
Bedtime and Depression
We rely on consistent sleep for our minds to function clearly and our moods to remain stable. Night owls are less likely to get the uninterrupted sleep they need regularly because social demands stand in the way. Most people are up early for work or school, and the majority of them aren’t concerned about keeping their noise levels down to accommodate the late shift.
All that broken sleep eventually takes its toll. According to a recent CNN report, shift workers often suffer because of their altered schedules, showing higher incidences of depression and mood issues. Research has shown night owls are more likely to suffer from insomnia, depression and numerous other health issues. Another study in women has drawn connections between sleeping late during pregnancy and developing postpartum depression.
This news might be difficult for sufferers. After all, we’re slaves to our biological clocks. We can’t change our circadian rhythms, or can we?
Shifting the Clock
With the negative effects of late-night schedules in mind, medical researchers at the University of Birmingham and the University of Surrey, Guildford, set out to see if they could alter sufferers’ clocks. They published their findings in Sleep Medicine.
During the study period, the researchers asked habitual night owls to set both sleeping and waking times back by about two hours. Instead of using medications to alter cycles, subjects relied on morning light exposure, set mealtimes and specific scheduled times for caffeine and exercise.
Not only were subjects able to shift their sleep-wake cycles, as demonstrated by changes in melatonin and cortisol responses, but they also experienced reduced levels of depression. Reaction times and grip strength also improved, indicating overall physical and mental benefits.
Our sleeping schedules can affect so many aspects of our bodies, including the quality of our mental health. Society doesn’t make it easy for night-owls. The world doesn’t stay quiet for long once daylight hits, and the disruptions eventually take their toll. Strategies to improve overall sleep quality and gain more consistent rest at night could make a difference.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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