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Differences in sleep patterns and attention according to sex and school level in adolescents


Adolescents present a phase delay with the arrival of puberty. However, the morning school hours decrease sleep duration on weekdays, causing insufficient and irregular sleep, and may have a greater detrimental effect for women, whose have a greater sleep need.


The objective of this study was to compare habits and quality of sleep, sleepiness on awakening and attention according to sex and school level (high school x college) in adolescents.


Participants were 88 adolescents (54 girls and 34 boys), 48 from high school (G1 - 15.5 ± 0.7 years) and 40 from college (G2 - 20.4 ± 3.2 years). Sleep was evaluated by questionnaires and attention by a cognitive task. Students filled a Sleep log containing the Maldonado Sleepiness Scale for 10 days, the "Sleep and Health" questionnaire and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). Attention components were evaluated by the Continuous Performance Task (CPT) applied in the morning.


G1 got up earlier (F(1,827) = 7,5, p <0,05), had the shortest time in bed (F(1,827) = 9,59, p<0,05) and most irregular time in bed in relation to G2 (F(1,82) = 6,7, p<0,05). Girls of both groups got up earlier (F(1,827) = 7,54, p<0,05), had the shortest time in bed (F(1,827) 4,6, p<0,05) and most irregular time in bed compared to boys (F(1,82) = 4,24, p<0,05). G1 showed the worst sleep quality (F(1.88) = 19,9, p<0,05) and greater sleepiness on waking (F(1,82) = 4,62, p<0,05). The girls presented greater sleepiness on waking (F(1,81) = 4,24, p<0,05). G1 showed a longer reaction time in phasic alertness, a longer reaction time in selective attention compared to G2 (Anova, p<0.05). G1 also had a greater percentage in wrong answers and omissions for all attention components when compared to G2 (Anova, p<0.05). There was an interaction between groups and sexes, showing G1 girls with the worst performance in sustained attention compared to G2 girls (Tukey, p<0.05).


Thus, high school students presented worse sleep quality, which is associated with higher levels of sleepiness and reduced attention, specially the girls. These sleep patterns and the impairment in attention may have a negative effect on academic performance.


adolescent sleep; attention; sleepiness; sleep quality.


Área Básica


Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León - - México, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte - Rio Grande do Norte - Brasil


Fernanda Mayara Diogo Crispim, Maria Luiza Cruz Oliveira, Sabinne Daniele Galina, Pablo Ramirez Valdez, Carolina Virginia Macêdo Azevedo