Early chronotype with advanced activity rhythms and dim light melatonin onset in a rural population

Francieli S. Ruiz, Felipe Beijamini, Andrew D. Beale, Bruno da Silva B. Gonçalves, Daniel Vartanian, Tâmara P. Taporoski, Benita Middleton, José E. Krieger, Homero Vallada, Josephine Arendt, Alexandre C. Pereira, Kristen L. Knutson, Mario Pedrazzoli, Malcolm von Schantz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Studying communities at different stages of urbanisation and industrialisation can teach us how timing and intensity of light affect the circadian clock under real-life conditions. We have previously described a strong tendency towards morningness in the Baependi Heart Study, located in a small rural town in Brazil. Here, we tested the hypothesis that this morningness tendency is associated with early circadian phase based on objective measurements (as determined by dim light melatonin onset, DLMO, and activity) and light exposure. We also analysed how well the previously collected chronotype questionnaire data were able to predict these DLMO values. The average DLMO observed in 73 participants (40 female) was 20:03 ± 01:21, SD, with an earlier average onset in men (19:38 ± 01:16) than in women (20:24 ± 01:21; P ≤.01). However, men presented larger phase angle between DLMO and sleep onset time as measured by actigraphy (4.11 hours vs 3.16 hours; P ≤.01). Correlational analysis indicated associations between light exposure, activity rhythms and DLMO, such that early DLMO was observed in participants with higher exposure to light, higher activity and earlier light exposure. The strongest significant predictor of DLMO was morningness-eveningness questionnaire (MEQ) (beta=−0.35, P ≤.05), followed by age (beta = −0.47, P ≤.01). Sex, light exposure and variables derived from the Munich chronotype questionnaire were not significant predictors. Our observations demonstrate that both early sleep patterns and earlier circadian phase have been retained in this small rural town in spite of availability of electrification, in contrast to metropolitan postindustrial areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12675
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Pineal Research
Issue number3
Early online date29 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


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