LifestyleGoing to bed after 1 a.m. linked to higher depression and anxiety risk

Going to bed after 1 a.m. linked to higher depression and anxiety risk

Going to bed too late can have consequences for mental health.
Going to bed too late can have consequences for mental health.
Images source: © @canva

21 June 2024 22:56

Regularly going to bed after 1 a.m. can have negative consequences for our mental health. A study found that the problem affects both early birds and night owls.

In a recent study published in "Psychiatry Research," experts analysed data concerning sleep and health from nearly 74,000 people in the United Kingdom. Those who regularly went to bed after 1 a.m. were more prone to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety than those who went to bed earlier.

Going to bed after 1 a.m. is linked to mental health risks

It didn't matter whether the participants considered themselves "early birds" or "night owls" — going to bed after 1 a.m. was associated with poorer mental health in both chronotypes. Furthermore, individuals who considered themselves "night owls" and went to bed after 1 a.m. were most at risk for adverse consequences. People who went to bed earlier had fewer diagnoses of mental health issues.

Dr Indira Gurubhagavatula, a professor of medicine in the sleep medicine department at the University of Pennsylvania, who is not associated with the study, commented on these findings for She noted that the British research had its limitations — the UK Biobank database, based on which the results mainly consist of middle-aged or older white individuals. This indicates the need for further research on more diverse populations. However, Dr Gurubhagavatula remarked that the UK results were consistent with her expectations and current scientific knowledge.

Sleep deprivation leads to difficulties in emotion regulation

Dr Indira Gurubhagavatula explained that some brain functions are more susceptible to sleep quality loss than others. She stated, "So, for example, maybe you can chew gum, you can talk, you can walk, but the frontal lobe of the brain is very vulnerable to sleep deprivation." The frontal lobe controls many key brain functions, including mood and emotional regulation.

The professor concluded, "So, our ability to not swing wildly from one emotion to the other ― that ability to inhibit ourselves ― becomes impaired under conditions of sleep deprivation or staying up very late at night. Then it can lead to more negativity, more anxiety ... because the higher brain functions that would regulate those emotions are more dulled."

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