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Social Jet-Lag in Tertiary Students Following a Modern Curriculum with Few Time-Tabled Contact Hours

Research group Kalsbeek
Publication year 2019
Published in Clocks & sleep
Authors C.H.C. Leenaars, Mathijs F G Lucassen, Nedim Borger, Ellen Houben, A. Kalsbeek

Social jet-lag (SJL) impairs academic performance, specifically for late chronotypes faced with early start times. Most modern tertiary educational systems have fewer time-tabled contact hours and consequently fewer early starts, which may limit SJL. We performed a pilot study of SJL in a convenience sample of students from Maastricht University, where problem-based learning (PBL) is implemented throughout the curricula. PBL is a modern curriculum, with only few contact hours and student-driven learning, comprising substantial amounts of self-study. Fifty-two students kept a detailed sleep diary for one week, and completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS). Participants were divided into early and late sleepers based on a ranking of their reported sleeping times, combined with a single question on their self-reported chronotype. Late sleepers (for brevity: “Owls”; n = 22) had later midpoint-sleep (5:14 ± 0:11 on weekdays; 5:50 ± 0:07 on weekend days) than early sleepers (for brevity: “Larks”; n = 11, 3:21 ± 0:05 on weekdays; 3:41 ± 0:06 on weekend days, F = 10.8, p = 0.003). The difference between the midpoint of sleep on weekdays and weekend days was comparable for Larks and Owls (F = 1.5; p = 0.22). SJL (0:53 ± 0:06, T = 1.4; p = 0.16), total sleep duration (7:58 ± 0:08; p = 0.07), and PSQI score (4.7 ± 0.3, U = 137; p = 0.56) were comparable for Larks and Owls. Average ESS score was higher in Larks (10.7 ± 0.96) than in Owls (7.0 ± 0.72; U = 52; p = 0.007). Within this pilot study of students engaged in a problem-based learning curriculum, Owls have no selective disadvantage compared to Larks concerning sleep.

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