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Largest Ever Study Finds Early Risers Have Lower Risk Of Depression

"Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise", said Benjamin Franklin.

The answer to whether one is a morning person or a night owl depends on his or her chronotype - i.e., sleep-wake preference, which is a biological trait.

In the largest study ever to analyse the possible link between chronotype and mood disorders, researchers have found that early risers are significantly less likely to develop depression.

The study involved data from 32,470 female participants, of average age 55, in the Nurses' Health Study. All the participants were free of depression at the time of enrollment in the study in 2009.

Of the study subjects, 37 percent described themselves as early types, 53 percent described themselves as intermediate types, and 10 percent described themselves as evening types. The participants were followed up for four years.

The researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston who analysed the data have found that after accounting for various factors, early risers still had a 12 to 27 percent lower risk of being depressed than intermediate types. The evening types had a 6 percent higher risk than intermediate types, although this increase was not statistically significant.

Commenting on the findings, lead author of the study, Céline Vetter, director of the Circadian and Sleep Epidemiology Laboratory (CASEL) at CU Boulder, said, "This tells us that there might be an effect of chronotype on depression risk that is not driven by environmental and lifestyle factors. Being an early type seems to be beneficial, and you can influence how early you are. Try to get enough sleep, exercise, spend time outdoors, dim the lights at night, and try to get as much light by day as possible".

The findings are published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.

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