Chronotype, Light Exposure, Sleep, and Daytime Functioning in High School Students Attending Morning or Afternoon School Shifts: An Actigraphic Study.

Research paper by Jeanne Sophie JS Martin, Michael M MM Gaudreault, Michel M Perron, Luc L Laberge

Indexed on: 31 Jan '16Published on: 31 Jan '16Published in: Journal of biological rhythms


Adolescent maturation is associated with delays of the endogenous circadian phase. Consequently, early school schedules may lead to a mismatch between internal and external time, which can be detrimental to adolescent sleep and health. In parallel, chronotype is known to play a role in adolescent health; evening chronotype adolescents are at higher risk for sleep problems and lower academic achievement. In the summer of 2008, Kénogami High School (Saguenay, Canada) was destroyed by fire. Kénogami students were subsequently relocated to Arvida High School (situated 5.3 km away) for the 2008-2009 academic year. A dual school schedule was implemented, with Arvida students attending a morning schedule (0740-1305 h) and Kénogami students an afternoon schedule (1325-1845 h). This study aimed to investigate the effects of such school schedules and chronotype on sleep, light exposure, and daytime functioning. Twenty-four morning and 33 afternoon schedule students wore an actigraph during 7 days to measure sleep and light exposure. Academic achievement was obtained from school. Subjects completed validated questionnaires on daytime sleepiness, psychological distress, social rhythms, school satisfaction, alcohol, and chronotype. Overall, afternoon schedule students had longer sleep duration, lower sleepiness, and lower light exposure than morning schedule students. Evening chronotypes (E-types) reported higher levels of sleepiness than morning chronotypes (M-types) in both morning and afternoon schedules. Furthermore, M-types attending the morning schedule reported higher sleepiness than M-types attending the afternoon schedule. No difference was found between morning and afternoon schedule students with regard to academic achievement, psychological distress, social rhythms, school satisfaction, and alcohol consumption. However, in both schedules, M-type had more regular social rhythms and lower alcohol consumption. In summary, this study emphasizes that an early school schedule is associated with detrimental effects in terms of sleep deprivation and daytime sleepiness, even for M-types. Furthermore, irrespective of school schedule, E-type adolescents face an increased risk for poor daytime functioning.