Sex difference in sleep-time preference and sleep need: a cross-sectional survey among Italian pre-adolescents, adolescents, and adults

Chronobiol Int. 2008 Sep;25(5):745-59. doi: 10.1080/07420520802394191.


The aim of this study was to examine sex differences in sleep-time preference by age among Italian pre-adolescents, adolescents, and adults. The final sample consisted of 8,972 participants (5,367 females and 3,605 males) from 10 to 87 yrs of age. To assess preferred sleep habits, we considered the answers to the open-ended questions of the Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire (MEQ). In agreement with previous studies, we found that sleep-time preference started to shift toward eveningness from the age of 13 yrs. Females reached their peak in eveningness earlier (about 17 yrs of age) than males (about 21 yrs of age). Thereafter, the ideal sleep-time preference advanced in men and women with increasing age. Females presented a more significant advanced sleep phase than males only during the years when sexual hormones are typically active. Moreover, females reported a longer ideal sleep duration than males across all age groups examined, except in over 55 yrs one.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Sex Factors
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Time Factors