Paolo M PM Russo, Oliviero O Bruni, Fabio F Lucidi, Raffaele R Ferri, Cristiano C Violani


Sleep habits and circadian preference (morningness/eveningness, M/E) have been extensively analyzed in adolescents and young adults, while few studies were conducted on children and early adolescents. Aim of the present study was to investigate the developmental changes of circadian preference and to analyze its relationship with sleep habits, sleep problems and circadian preference in a large sample by means of a school-based survey. One thousand seventy-three participants (50.8% boys and 49.2% girls; mean age = 10.6; range = 8-14 years), recruited from four schools randomly extracted within the district of Rome, completed a modified version of School Sleep Habits Survey developed by Carskadon et al. The questionnaire included items about sleep habits during schooldays and weekends; a Sleepiness Scale; a Sleep-Wake Problems Behaviour Scale; a Morningness/Eveningness scale. The results show a consistent age-related change in sleep habits, particularly in the weekends. The difference in sleep duration between schooldays and weekends increases linearly with age. No gender difference was observed in morningness/eveningness, while a significant linear increase in evening preference was found with increasing ages. M/E total scores correlated significantly with both self-reported sleep/wake problems and daytime sleepiness indicating a higher prevalence of sleep complaints in evening-type subjects. Overall, the present results support the existence of consistent age-related changes in sleep habits and M/E dimension in the 8- to 14-year age range.