Indexed on: 16 Jul '08Published on: 16 Jul '08Published in: Chronobiology international
Only a few studies focus on comparisons to reveal differences in sleep and circadian preferences in adolescents. This study used the same instrument to compare adolescents in Eastern and Western Germany. In all, 674 pupils between 11 and 16 yrs participated. The questionnaire asked questions about wake times and bed times (on weekend and weekdays), and the Composite Scale of Morningness (CSM) was completed to assess diurnal preferences. Locality (East/West Germany) had no effect on rise and bed times during the week and on sleep length on the weekend. Western pupils rose later on weekends and went to bed later on weekends. While sleep length on weekdays was shorter in West Germany, weekend oversleep was longer and misalignment was higher. Diurnal preferences (CSM scores) suggested a higher eveningness in West Germany. As interaction effects were insignificant, changes throughout adolescence seem similar in East and West Germany. These data suggest that given similar school start times, Western German pupils are at higher risk because they are later chronotypes. The finding of earlier rise and bed times of the East German pupils is consistent with the hypothesis that sunlight acts as the entrainment for the biological clock of adolescents, as sunrise is earlier in Eastern Germany.