Based on the results, adults with an “early/strong” pattern, AKA getting up before 7 a.m. and staying active during the day appeared to have better scores on their cognitive assessments and have better mental health than participants whose daily schedules were less “vigorous.”
The participants who were go to bed Waking up later, and being less active during the day, were found to have the highest rates of cognitive impairment and were also the most likely to have major depressive symptoms.
The researchers note that these findings are correlated and not necessarily a sign of causation. As the study’s lead author, Stephen Smagula, points out, the relationship between sleep, activity levels, and mental health can go both ways. (As in, poor mental health and/or cognition can affect your sleep and activity, and vice versa.)
But however you look at it, it’s clear that staying active is linked to better physical and mental health outcomes, so that’s just one more reason to take action. As the study authors explained, “activity” does not necessarily mean physical activity: it could be meeting a friend for coffee, solving a mentally stimulating puzzle, or going to a place of worship.