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Sleeping After 1 AM May Weaken Your Mental Well-being, Research Reveals

Daniel Kim Views  

A study published in Psychiatry Research reports that falling asleep late, after 1 a.m., may negatively impact mental health.

An observational study conducted by Imperial College London suggests that regardless of whether you are a morning person or a night owl, falling asleep late can reduce REM sleep, increasing the risk of mental disorders.

Sleep researchers have long focused on the Chronotype, which refers to one’s preference for waking up and going to bed within a 24-hour day. People have diverse sleep preferences based on their circadian rhythm, with some favoring sleeping early and waking up early, while others prefer sleeping late and waking up late.

The research team analyzed data from 73,888 adults (56% women) with an average age of 63.5 years from the UK Biobank. On average, participants slept an average of 7 hours a day.

Interestingly, the study reveals that night owls who fall asleep late after 1 a.m., even if it aligns with their chronotype, tend to have the weakest mental health status.

The researchers cited the Mind After Midnight hypothesis, which suggests that the brain works differently late at night than during the day, potentially impacting mental health.

They elaborated that being awake alone late at night, as social creatures, can lead to a feeling as if there is a lack of support. Conversely, people who identify as morning people and fall asleep before 1 a.m. generally exhibited better mental health with lower rates of cognitive, behavioral, and neurodevelopmental disorders, depression, and general anxiety.

Experts highlight that the habit of falling asleep late in modern society often leads to a lack of total sleep time, which can result in a shortage of REM sleep, which is crucial for mood regulation. Changes in REM sleep are recognized as risk factors for various neuropsychiatric disorders (i.e., depression, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc).

The experts anticipated a more fragile mental health connection with evening chronotypes. However, they found that regardless of chronotype, the act of falling asleep late itself had a negative impact on mental health.

They cautioned that the 1 a.m. benchmark was determined based on the study’s predominantly middle-aged participants with similar social patterns. Furthermore, they anticipated that appropriate sleep times would be determined considering seasonal and geographical factors.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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