WESTCHESTER, Ill. - Eveningness is associated with not only later phases of a person's sleep-wake cycle, but also with sleep irregularities, more pronounced sleep restriction during the week, and higher sleep compensation on weekends. Evening type college students may, therefore, need a sleep education that helps them adjust to imposed morning schedules, and would probably benefit from later class schedules, according to a research abstract that will be presented on Tuesday at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).
The study, authored by Ana A. Gomes, of the University of Aveiro in Portugal, focused on 1,654 undergraduates at the university, where classes usually start at 9 a.m. The subjects completed a national version of the Composite Morningness Questionnaire, plus a sleep self-response questionnaire including questions on sleep durations, bed and rise times. The answers were used to compute week/weekend irregularities of sleep patterns.
The results revealed that, more than other diurnal types, evening-oriented students show sleep debt during the week, sleep compensation on weekends, sleep-wake schedule irregularities, and later sleep-wake schedules. These results suggest a disagreement among their sleep-wake cycles and the morning class schedules.
"Our findings, together with other studies on the subject, lead us to firmly suspect that, at least in adolescents and young adults, evening-type students may face a real disadvantage when forced to adhere to morning classes," said Gomes. "Given the inevitable existence of diurnal-type variations from person to person, we may infer that any single standardized schedule is likely to be inappropriate. We share the idea that a wiser alternative would be the availability of at least two schedules (early/later), so that all diurnal types may gain. Sleep education would also be of great value in helping students to better adjust the sleep-wake cycle to externally imposed timetables."
It is recommended that adults get between seven and eight hours of nightly sleep.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) offers the following tips on how to get a good night's sleep:
- Follow a consistent bedtime routine.
- Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.
- Get a full night's sleep every night.
- Avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine, as well as any medicine that has a stimulant, prior to bedtime.
- Do not stay up all hours of the night to "cram" for an exam, do homework, etc. If after-school activities are proving to be too time-consuming, consider cutting back on these activities.
- Keep computers and TVs out of the bedroom.
- Do not go to bed hungry, but don't eat a big meal before bedtime either.
- Avoid any rigorous exercise within six hours of your bedtime.
- Make your bedroom quiet, dark and a little bit cool.
- Get up at the same time every morning.
Those who suspect that they might be suffering from a sleep disorder are encouraged to consult with their primary care physician or a sleep specialist.
The annual SLEEP meeting brings together an international body of 5,000 leading researchers and clinicians in the field of sleep medicine to present and discuss new findings and medical developments related to sleep and sleep disorders.
More than 1,000 research abstracts will be presented at the SLEEP meeting, a joint venture of the AASM and the Sleep Research Society. The three-and-a-half-day scientific meeting will bring to light new findings that enhance the understanding of the processes of sleep and aid the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnea.
SleepEducation.com, a patient education Web site created by the AASM, provides information about various sleep disorders, the forms of treatment available, recent news on the topic of sleep, sleep studies that have been conducted and a listing of sleep facilities.