A Comparison of Adolescent and Adult Circadian Rhythms Using Reaction Time and Physiological Measures
Research has shown that adolescents have a circadian phase shift for later sleep onset time with increasing pubertal maturation (Carskadon, 1999). The purpose of this study was to compare adolescents to adults using reaction times, blood pressure, temperature, and pulse at scheduled intervals throughout one night where subjects were required to stay awake all night. The subjects were nine adolescent high school students and nine adult college students. Each group completed the Denver Fatigue Inventory five times throughout the night. The Denver Fatigue Inventory measures reaction times and cognitive performances and is correlated to stages of sleep. Multivariate analysis of variance did not indicate significant differences among the conditions. Physiological measures were also recorded for each participant four times throughout the night. Analysis of physiological variables showed that temperature declined over the course of the night for both groups. Also, pulse rates were significantly higher in adults than adolescents throughout the night. Multivariate analysis of variance did not indicate significant interaction effects among these conditions. These results are discussed in relation to the implications of adolescent sleep cycles on performance and methodological considerations.