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Ah, the magic of sleeping in. Rolling over, hitting the snooze button and sneaking in a few extra minutes (or more) of sleep—it’s a true luxury. However, recent research on the best time to wake up for your health proves that you may need to stop snoozing and start rising and shining.
A 2021 study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University found that shifting bedtimes and wake times an hour earlier than usual decreased the risk of depression by 23 percent. So, while waking up a little earlier may not be your favorite choice in the moment, it could end up being the smart choice in the longterm for your mental health.
The study assessed the impact of shifting sleep and wake times on 850,000 adults. With such a large number of participants, researchers came to their conclusion by examining the sleep midpoint. This point is the halfway point between falling asleep and waking up. The researchers found that with each hour the midpoint shifted earlier (i.e. an earlier wake time and an earlier bed time), the risk of depression decreased by 23 percent.
Already setting your alarm for 5 a.m. to sneak in an early morning practice? Unfortunately, this study doesn’t cover how this shift may affect someone who already wakes up early.
These findings parallel other studies looking at the science of early morning risers. A 2017 study examining the wake-up times of participants with type 2 diabetes found that those who slept in later were more likely to report symptoms of depression than those with early wake times.
The science of early morning risers
You may have seen the screenshots of Mark Wahlberg’s 2:30 a.m. morning routine. And while you definitely don’t need to start your day in the middle of the night (please don’t), there is some additional research that supports the benefits of rising early.
An analysis conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that those who are most productive in the morning (versus at night) were more likely to be proactive. This analysis showed early risers or “morning people” are more likely to perform better at school, as well as foresee problems (and solve them). Turns out, there may be a reason why so many successful people set their alarm clocks for the early morning hours.
Now, if you’re a night owl who will never change your ways, don’t worry. The Harvard Business Review analysis also noted that night owls tend to be funnier, more outgoing, more creative—and even smarter. So, you can be confident that burning the midnight oil on a frequent basis comes with its own array of benefits. (Just make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye.)
See also: 15 Yoga Poses to Help You Sleep Better