June 11, 2008 Eveningness is associated with not only later phases of a person's sleep-wake cycle, but also with sleep irregularities, more pronounced sleep restriction during the week, and higher sleep compensation on weekends. Evening type college students may, therefore, need a sleep education that helps them adjust to imposed morning schedules, and would probably benefit from later class schedules, according to a research abstract that will be presented on June 10 at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).
The study, authored by Ana A. Gomes, of the University of Aveiro in Portugal, focused on 1,654 undergraduates at the university, where classes usually start at 9 a.m. The subjects completed a national version of the Composite Morningness Questionnaire, plus a sleep self-response questionnaire including questions on sleep durations, bed and rise times. The answers were used to compute week/weekend irregularities of sleep patterns.
The results revealed that, more than other diurnal types, evening-oriented students show sleep debt during the week, sleep compensation on weekends, sleep-wake schedule irregularities, and later sleep-wake schedules. These results suggest a disagreement among their sleep-wake cycles and the morning class schedules.
"Our findings, together with other studies on the subject, lead us to firmly suspect that, at least in adolescents and young adults, evening-type students may face a real disadvantage when forced to adhere to morning classes," said Gomes. "Given the inevitable existence of diurnal-type variations from person to person, we may infer that any single standardized schedule is likely to be inappropriate. We share the idea that a wiser alternative would be the availability of at least two schedules (early/later), so that all diurnal types may gain. Sleep education would also be of great value in helping students to better adjust the sleep-wake cycle to externally imposed timetables."
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