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What time you wake up linked to risk of mental health issues, finds major study

Your DNA may be to blame for your inability to wake up in the morning

Sabrina Barr
Wednesday 30 January 2019 12:07 GMT
'Breakfast at Tiffany's'
'Breakfast at Tiffany's' (Rex Features)

People who naturally rise earlier in the morning are less likely to develop mental health issues in future, researchers have discovered.

The study, which was conducted by scientists from a range of universities in the UK, the US, the Netherlands, Germany and Australia, was published in scientific journal Nature Communications.

For their investigation, the team assessed data from almost 700,000 individuals in order to determine how a person's genetic makeup can affect their natural circadian rhythm and the state of their mental health.

They were able to pinpoint 351 genetic factors that can affect whether a person is likely to have a tendency to wake up early in the morning or go to bed late at night.

The data was gathered from people who'd registered with the UK Biobank and individuals who'd submitted genetic samples to DNA genetic testing company 23andMe.

The researchers assessed the genes of people who described themselves as a "morning person" or an "evening person", concluding that there is a strong affiliation between their DNA and ability to get out of bed in the morning.

The findings also indicated that people who categorise themselves as early birds are also less likely than night owls to experience mental health issues.

The team cross-referenced the 351 genetic factors with genes that have known associations with some mental health conditions.

They came to the conclusion that those who naturally wake up early in the morning have less chance of developing conditions such as depression or schizophrenia.

"There are clear epidemiological associations reported in the literature between mental health traits and chronotype, with mental health disorders typically being overrepresented in evening types," the researchers state.

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"In this study we show that morningness is negatively genetically correlated with both depression and schizophrenia, and positively correlated with wellbeing."

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