Health & Wellness

Night Owls Might Be More Predisposed to Depression

Love to stay up late? It might not be very good for your mental health


By Katrina Caruso


Women who stay up late are more likely to be depressed, according to a study published in May in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.

The research followed more than 32,000 female nurses over 55 years old beginning in 2009, looking at questionnaires they filled out in 2011 and 2013. In 2009, all the participants were free of depression. Over the course of the study, more than 2,500 women developed depression.

The findings showed that those who were early to bed and early to rise (known as “early chronotypes”) were less at risk, while “late chronotypes” (late sleepers) had a higher risk.

Researchers took into consideration other factors such as exposure to light and working schedules. They found that the late-chronotype female nurses were also more likely to smoke, to be unmarried, live alone, and have less-than-positive sleeping patterns—all factors that can contribute to depression. So it was unclear if staying up late was the primary cause of depression in the participants.

The study is currently the largest to follow sleep habits and the correlation between mood disorders.

There has been other research, such as a German study from 2013, that has shown that night owls tend to have higher levels of depression, but it was often not clear whether night owls are depressed because they stay up late or stay up late because they are depressed.

According to the 2013 study, 10% of the population are early risers, and 20% of the population are night owls, with the other 70% being considered intermediate chronotypes.


Photo: iStock/Ranta Images.