Sleep patterns of day-working, evening high-schooled adolescents of São Paulo, Brazil

Liliane Reis Teixeira, Frida Marina Fischer, Miriam Mendonça Morato de Andrade, Fernando Mazzili Louzada, Roberta Nagai
Chronobiology International 2004, 21 (2): 239-52
Children who grow up in developing countries of the world must work to help financially support their families, and they must also attend school. We investigated the impact of work on the sleep of working vs. nonworking high school students. Twenty-seven São Paulo, Brazil, public high school students (eight male and eight female working students plus six nonworking female and five nonworking male students) 14-18 yrs of age who attended school Monday-Friday between 19:00 to 22:30h participated. A comprehensive questionnaire about work and living conditions, health status, and diseases and their symptoms was also answered. The activity level and rest pattern (sleep at night and napping during the day) were continuously assessed by wrist actigraphy (Ambulatory Monitoring, USA). The main variables were analyzed by a two-factor ANOVA with application of the Tukey HSD test for multiple comparisons, and the length of sleep during weekdays vs. weekends was compared by Student t-test. Working students went to sleep earlier weekends [F(1,23)=6.1; p=0.02] and woke up earlier work days than nonworking students [F(1,23) = 17.3; p = 0.001]. The length of nighttime sleep during weekdays was shorter among all the working [F(1,23)= 16.7; p <0.001] than all the nonworking students. The sleep duration of boys was shorter than of girls during weekends [F(1,23)= 10.8; p <0.001]. During weekdays, the duration of napping by working and nonworking male students was shorter than nonworking female students. During weekdays working girls took the shortest naps [F(1,23)= 5.6; p = 0.03]. The most commonly reported sleep complaint during weekdays was difficulty waking up in the morning [F(1,23) = 6.5; p = 0.02]. During weekdays, the self-perceived sleep quality of working students was worse than nonworking students [F(1,23) = 6.2; p = 0.02]. The findings of this study show that work has negative effects on the sleep of adolescents, with the possible build-up of a chronic sleep debt with potential consequent impact on quality of life and school learning.

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