Teaching Chronobiology and Sleep Habits in School and University


Carolina Virginia Macêdo de Azevedo, Laboratório de Cronobiologia, Departamento de Fisiologia, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, Caixa Postal 1511, 59078-970 Natal, RN, Brazil; e-mail: carolina@cb.ufrn.br


ABSTRACT— Early morning school schedules are in the opposite direction to the sleep–wake cycle in adolescence and early adulthood. This conflict leads to sleep deprivation and irregular patterns whose consequences are scarcely explored. This article discusses the effects of three educational experiences with high school students, parents, teachers, and medical students. The first experience was developed with high school students in Natal, Brazil, to determine whether sleep habits would improve with increased awareness. Positive effects were observed in some aspects of sleep knowledge and practices. In the second experience in Atlanta, GA, sleep education activities were presented to middle and high school teachers, parents, and students to emphasize the importance of sleep. In the third program in Murcia, Spain, undergraduate medical students were introduced to chronobiology of sleep by a practical exercise that pointed out to what extent they shared most of adolescent sleep characteristics. Educational chronobiological experiences about sleep are essential to develop healthy sleep habits in the general population, particularly in students.