Try This Trick Tonight

Many of us know that going to bed an hour earlier has important health benefits but that’s not the only adjustment we can make to our sleeping routine that has big consequences.

According to a study by the University of Colorado on almost 1 million participants, shifting your sleep cycle by just an hour – so going to bed and waking up an hour earlier than usual – could reduce the risk of depression by as much as 23%.

Shifting the pattern in this way means that you’re exposing yourself to more light exposure in the morning. It’s this which impacts the hormones that have a positive influence on your mood. It’s an idea that also adds weight to the notion that genetics play a part in sleep timing preference, with those identifying as night owls more prone to depression than early risers.

For even greater benefits, aim for two hours earlier if you can; the study concluded that shift amounted to nearly double a decrease in the risk of depression, around 40%.

If changing things up straight away feels like too much of a challenge, start by edging closer to the hour in smaller 15-minute increments and gradually work your way up to the full hour or two. Most importantly, try to follow the rule of keeping your days bright and your nights dark. That means your bedroom should be ambient and focused on sleep only, devices should be limited (or better still, turned off) in the evening and you should try to get as much daylight as possible during daytime hours.