The most prominent circadian rhythm is the sleep-wake cycle and today we know the importance of its regularity for the physical and mental health of humans. In various situations, such as shift work, meridian flights, irregular sleep, etc., we have cognitive impairments and metabolic disorders. In a special phase of our life, adolescence, there is a delay in the phase of the sleep-wake cycle, and therefore we tend to sleep later and wake up earlier. Currently, other factors are added to this natural change. Therefore, researchers in the field of chronobiology are proposing a delay in the beginning of classes for at least 8:30 in the morning. In addition, several experimental evidences have shown that regular circadian rhythmicity is essential for the maintenance of a stable mood state and that the irregularity of the sleep-wake cycle is related to the triggering of depressive crises and the increase of suicidal ideation. Another great contribution of chronobiology has been the demonstration of individual differences in relation to the temporal allocation of the sleep phase, which we call chronotype. The chronotype is linked with different other behavioral aspects and its characterization is necessary in several experimental approaches in Psychology research.
Department of Physiology – CB – UFRN | Brazil
Department of Psychology