People Who Go to Bed Early Worry Less, According to Science
Good news for those of you who like to tuck in early. Your friends may call you lame, but science says that people who go to bed early worry less. So actually, you're probably happier than those night owl friends of yours anyway.
According to the study, which was published in Cognitive Therapy and Research, people who go to bed later tend to experience more "persistent, negative thoughts" than those who turn in earlier. In the study, researchers asked 100 undergraduate students to fill out a survey that asked about when they typically went to sleep and about their worrying habits, such as how often they worried and what sorts of things they tended to worry about.
Because these are college undergraduates, the average bedtime was around 1a.m., though some students also stayed out as late as 5 a.m.. Still, others reportedly went to bed much earlier, around 10 p.m. (I'm betting those are the ones who either play sports or have an early morning job to get to). But it seems that the 10 p.m. crowd might be onto something. The later the students reported their typical bedtime to be, the more they reported worrying during the day.
In other words, don't make fun of your early bird roommate. She might be onto something.
So how does all this work? Well, it most likely has to do with the prefrontal cortex, which is a part of the brain linked to attention, and which is particularly sensitive to sleep-deprivation. So not going to bed later — and likely getting less sleep as a result — makes you more likely to pay attention to your problems and less able to stop.
Or maybe being worried about stuff all the time just makes it harder to fall asleep. Or maybe both things — worrying and not getting enough sleep — just enable each other in a never-ending positive feedback loop that will eventually need to be solved with sleeping pills.
If you are having trouble sleeping and would like to fix the problem, you can check out these tricks for falling asleep, or look up frequent causes of sleeplessness to figure out what's keeping you up in the first place. There are even apps to help you get some sleep. Because sleep is great guys. You should have some.
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