From the Nursing Ministry
"Early to bed and early to rise make a man healthy, wealthy, and wise," goes the famous Benjamin Franklin saying. We're not sure about wealthy or wise, and let's set aside the focus on men, but early birds may indeed have an edge in at least one aspect of health. According to a new study, middle-aged and older women who then to wake up and go to sleep early are less prone to depression. In previous research linking depression and sleep-wake patterns, there was a classic "chicken or the egg" problem: It wasn't clear whether being a night owl could contribute to depression or depression itself was making people stay up later. It showed that early birds have a 12 to 27 percent lower risk of developing the mood disorder compared with "intermediate" sleepers(not to early, not to late). Night owls were 6 percent more likely to develop depression than intermediate sleepers. Your sleep-wake patterns, are partially determined by genetics, but that doesn't mean you're locked in to early bird or night owl status. If you're a night owl trying to shift to an earlier schedule, try gradually tweaking your bedtime and wake time. Getting lots of natural light, especially in the morning may help to shift your body clock and boost your mood. But remember that mental health is a holistic business: regular exercise, a nourishing Mediterranean-inspired diet, stress management practices like yoga and/or deep breathing and/or meditation, and meaningful social connections are all good "medicine" for your mood - and your overall health!