Based on the findings, it appears adults who have an “early rising/robust pattern,” AKA waking up before 7 a.m. and staying active during the day, did better on their cognition assessments and had better mental health than the participants whose daily schedules were less “robust.”
The participants who were going to bed and waking up later, and had less activity during the day, were found to have the highest rates of cognitive impairment and were also the most likely to have significant depressive symptoms.
The researchers do note that these findings are correlative, and not necessarily a sign of causation. As the study’s lead author, Stephen Smagula notes, the relationship between sleep, activity levels, and mental health could go both ways. (As in, poorer mental health and/or cognition can influence your sleep and activity, and vice versa.)
But however you look at it, it is clear that staying active in is associated with better physical and mental health outcomes, so this is just one more reason to get moving. And as the study authors explain, “activity” doesn’t necessarily mean physical activity: It can be meeting up with a friend for coffee, doing a mentally stimulating puzzle, or going to a place of worship.