Article image

Less screen time and more sleep can protect you from depression

Less screen time and more sleep can protect you from depression An international team of researchers led by Western Sydney University reports that less screen time and more sleep are critical for preventing depression. The study showed that depression is strongly influenced by diet, sleep habits, screen time, physical activity, and other modifiable lifestyle factors. 

The analysis was focused on data from the UK Biobank that involved almost 85,000 people. The experts say their insight into the link between depression and lifestyle factors may ultimately help to inform public health policy.

The study revealed that physical activity, healthy diet, and seven to nine hours of regular sleep are strongly correlated with a lower risk of depressed mood. By contrast, screen time and tobacco smoking were significantly associated with more frequent depressive symptoms.

The researchers were surprised to find that higher frequency of alcohol consumption was linked with a reduced frequency of depressed mood in people with depression. According to the experts, this may be due to the self-medicating use of alcohol by those with depression to manage their mood.

Over time, individuals with or without clinical depression were most protected from depression by lower screen time and optimal sleep. Those without clinically diagnosed depression were also protected by a better-quality diet.

“The research is the first assessment of such a broad range of lifestyle factors and its effect on depression symptoms using the large UK Biobank lifestyle and mood dataset,” said study lead author Professor Jerome Sarris.

“While people usually know that physical activity is important for mood, we now have additional data showing that adequate sleep and less screen time is also critical to reduce depression.”

“The findings also suggest that one’s dietary pattern is partly implicated in the germination or exacerbation of depressed mood.”

“The results may inform public health policy by further highlighting the important relationship between people being encouraged and supported to engage in a range of health-promoting activities. In particular, maintaining optimal sleep and lessening screen time (which is often an issue in youth), while having adequate physical activity and good dietary quality, may reduce the symptoms of depression.”

The study is published in the journal BMC Medicine.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day