Indexed on: 01 Dec '12Published on: 01 Dec '12Published in: Chronobiology international
The human sleep-wake cycle is characterized by significant individual differences. Those differences in the sleep-wake cycle are partially heritable but are also influenced by environmental factors like the light/dark cycle or social habits. In this study we analyse for the first time the sleep-wake rhythm of adolescent pupils and working adolescents in a less industrialised country in West Africa near the equator. The aim of this study was to explore the sleep wake cycle in this geographical region, using Côte d'Ivoire as an example. Data collection took place between 2nd of March and 10th of June 2009. 588 adolescents (338 girls, 250 boys) between 10 and 15 years (mean ± SD: 12.72 ± 1.63) participated in this study. We collected data on the religion of the participants (Christian (N = 159), Muslim (N = 352), other/no religion (N = 77)) and their occupation. Participants were either pupils attending school (N = 336) or adolescents that were already working (N = 252) and not attending school. The interviewer filled in the questionnaire. We found significant effects of age (p < 0.001), gender (p < 0.001), occupation (p = 0.002), religion (p < 0.001) and region (p < 0.001). The midpoint of sleep was on average 1:26 (SD: 00:30) on weekdays and 1:37 (SD: 00:42) on weekend days. There are significant differences between weekdays and weekend days, but these were only small. Sleep duration suggests that adolescents in Côte d'Ivoire may gain sufficient sleep during week and weekend days, and thus, may live more in accordance with their own biological clock than adolescents in the northern hemisphere. In contrast, the data can be interpreted that adolescents live in a permanent 'jetlag'. Factors may be the more continuous light/dark cycle in the tropics, low amount of ambient light and less electricity.