Chronotype and the transition to college life

Chronobiol Int. 2011 Dec;28(10):904-10. doi: 10.3109/07420528.2011.618959.


Social synchronizers of morningness-eveningness, or chronotype, begin to change during the developmental transition from adolescence to college life. The current study examined how these changes related to the sleep/wake patterns of 220 undergraduates (93 males/122 females) ranging in age from 18 to 29 yrs at a private university. Coping strategies students used to deal with early morning commitments and familial conflict over sleep patterns were also examined. Results revealed that evening chronotypes were more likely to report conflict with parents in junior high school and high school over going to bed and waking, followed by a shift to a later sleep/wake pattern in college. They also reported adjusting their schedules and using more coping strategies to accommodate their evening bias. Morning chronotypes, whose routines easily fit a conventional morning schedule, reported little change in schedules and sleep patterns from junior high school to college, and used fewer coping strategies in response to early morning commitments. The shift in social zeitgebers from junior high school to college are significant, and yet little research has examined the effect these changes can have on students' adjustment to college life and the role that chronotype plays in this process. Because students' ability to cope with these changes will ultimately influence how successful they are in their various endeavors, a greater understanding of how chronotype is related to adaptive functioning across this developmental period is needed.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Students* / psychology
  • Universities*
  • Young Adult