• Later bedtimes can reduce REM sleep, affecting mood regulation
  • Evening chronotypes are particularly susceptible to poor mental health
  • Optimal bedtimes may vary by age, season, and time zone

New research suggests that regardless of whether you are a morning lark or a night owl, going to bed after 1 a.m. could be detrimental to your mental health (1 Trusted Source
Mental Health and Sleep

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What is a Chronotype?

Sleep researchers have long been interested in the concept of chronotypes, which is an individual’s preference for what time of day they are most alert. Some people are naturally early risers, while others tend to be night owls.


Study Challenges the Role of Chronotypes in Mental Health

This new study surprisingly found that even evening types, who naturally prefer to go to bed later, experienced the poorest mental health when they slept after 1 a.m. The study’s findings challenge the notion that chronotype alone is a major factor in mental health.


How Sleep Affects Mental Health

The researchers behind the study suggest a few reasons why later bedtimes may be linked to poorer mental health.

Less REM sleep: Sleep is divided into stages, including REM sleep, which is important for mood regulation. Later bedtimes can lead to less REM sleep, potentially increasing the risk of mood disorders like depression and anxiety.

The Mind After Midnight theory: This theory suggests that our brains function differently later at night, and being awake when others are asleep can negatively impact mental well-being due to a lack of social connection.

Why Evening Types Might be More Susceptible

Evening types may be more likely to experience negative health effects from late sleep schedules because:

Society is geared towards morning people: Artificial light and societal norms can make it difficult for evening types to maintain a healthy sleep schedule.

Evening chronotypes linked to poorer health: Studies have already shown a correlation between evening chronotypes and poorer health outcomes in general.

Optimal Bedtime May Vary Depending on Factors

The study suggests that 1 a.m. may be a critical cutoff for bedtime to optimize mental health, but researchers acknowledge that this may vary depending on several factors, including:

Age: The study looked at middle-aged and older adults, and social norms around sleep may be different for younger people.

Season: Seasonal changes in light exposure can affect sleep patterns.

Time zone: Location and time zone can influence natural sleep-wake cycles.

In conclusion, this study suggests that getting to sleep before 1a.m. is important for mental health, regardless of whether you are a morning person or a night owl. While evening types who sleep late may be especially susceptible to negative impacts, the ideal bedtime may also depend on age, season, and time zone. Further research is needed to determine the exact reasons why later sleep schedules are linked to poorer mental health and to explore optimal sleep schedules for different groups of people.


  1. Mental Health and Sleep – (https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mental-health)


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