Second international School On Mind, Brain And Education

2007, May 22-26

Basic and Applied Topics
in Biological Rhythms and Learning

Directors: Antonio M. Battro and Kurt W. Fischer
Program officer: MarĂ­a Lourdes Majdalani

Abstract: Carolina Azevedo

Is a sleep educational program a solution for adolescent sleep problems?
Adolescents present biological and social pressures to a phase delay that is counterposed by early school schedules. As a consequence they show irregular sleep patterns between weekend and school days and sleep debt leading to several negative consequences. Also, they stay later at night watching TV and surfing the internet increasing light exposure delaying sleep onset. These poor sleep habits are associated to poor sleep knowledge. Moreover, sleep physiology and biological rhythms are usually absent of school programs. As an alternative to reduce these negative consequences we developed a school-based sleep hygiene program on healthy Brazilian high school adolescents. Initially the program was conducted with 58 high-school students during a week and consisted of daily 50min activities like sleep physiology classes, construction of a sleep ontogeny map, discussion about causes and consequences of adolescent sleep deprivation and a contest about sleep hygiene statements, after that the students received sleep hygiene pamphlets. After the program the students showed a reduction in index of sleep irregularity (represented by bedtime standard deviation), a sleep latency decreased and a nap wake-up schedule advanced. Sleep quality and daytime sleepiness showed no difference. The program was effective only in reducing sleep irregularity and latency and advancing nap awake. To improve and extend the program to a larger sample to achieve better evaluation a longer program was developed initially with 48 students. It was developed before mid year vacation to evaluate its effect on a critical moment to the adolescents, the transition between vacation to school days. The program consisted by 12 daily 50 minutes activities during a month. The duration of the activities of the first proposal were extended. Also, we evaluated the knowledge about sleep physiology before and after the program and if this knowledge was translated into practice. We hypothesized that the program increases adolescents’ knowledge about sleep and modifies some sleep habits, as sleep irregularity and later naps, at least in some adolescents, since educational results are difficult to achieve in all individuals, particularly at adolescence when some poor hygiene habits are more attractive than the sleep hygiene statements. In spite of this, educational programs might be encouraged because the knowledge developed at school might be useful not only for improving the quality of life at adolescence, but also on adulthood including the establishment of sleep habits of their own children.