Sex-specific sleep patterns among university students in Lebanon: impact on depression and academic performance.

Research paper by Colette S CS Kabrita, Theresa A TA Hajjar-Muça

Indexed on: 07 Jul '16Published on: 07 Jul '16Published in: Nature and science of sleep


Good sleep quality and quantity are fundamental to the maintenance of normal physiological processes. Changes in sleep patterns are commonly observed among young adults and are shown to impact neurocognitive, academic, and psychological well-being. Given the scarcity of sleep information about Lebanon and acknowledging the sex differences in various sleep dimensions, we conducted a study that aimed at assessing sex differences in sleep habits among university students in Lebanon in relation to psychoacademic status. A total of 540 students (50.6% females) completed a questionnaire that inquired about sociodemographics and evaluated sleep quality and depression using the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), respectively. The mean PSQI global score (6.57±3.49) indicated poor sleep, with no significant differences between men and women. The sleep/wake rhythm was delayed on weekends for both sexes. Females exhibited earlier bedtimes and rise times and longer sleep durations on both weekdays and weekends. However, unlike males females showed a greater phase delay in wake times than bedtimes on weekends (149 minutes vs 74 minutes, respectively). In all, 70.9% of females suffered from depressive symptoms, which was a significantly higher proportion compared with 58.5% of males (P<0.01). Based on the mean cumulative self-reported grade point average (GPA), the academic performance of females was significantly better than that of males (2.8±0.61 vs 2.65±0.61, P<0.05, respectively). Depression, as scored by CES-D, in females was significantly negatively correlated with the cumulative GPA (r=-0.278, P<0.01), earlier wake time (r=-0.168, P<0.05), and average sleep duration (r=-0.221, P<0.01) on weekdays. GPA of males was significantly correlated with bedtime on weekends (r=-0.159, P<0.05). We conclude that sex differences in sleep timing, such as bedtime/rise time and nocturnal sleep duration, rather than sleep quality exist among Lebanese university students. Sex-specific sleep patterns have differential impact on psychological and academic well-being.