Long-lasting effects of disturbing the circadian rhythm or sleep in adolescence

Gretchen C. Pifer, Nicole C. Ferrara, Janine L. Kwapis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Circadian rhythms are endogenous, near 24-hour rhythms that regulate a multitude of biological and behavioral processes across the diurnal cycle in most organisms. Over the lifespan, a bell curve pattern emerges in circadian phase preference (i.e. chronotype), with children and adults generally preferring to wake earlier and fall asleep earlier, and adolescents and young adults preferring to wake later and fall asleep later than their adult counterparts. This well-defined shift speaks to the variability of circadian rhythmicity over the lifespan and the changing needs and demands of the brain as an organism develops, particularly in the adolescent period. Indeed, adolescence is known to be a critical period of development during which dramatic neuroanatomical changes are occurring to allow for improved decision-making. Due to the large amount of re-structuring occurring in the adolescent brain, circadian disruptions during this period could have adverse consequences that persist across the lifespan. While the detrimental effects of circadian disruptions in adults have been characterized in depth, few studies have longitudinally assessed the potential long-term impacts of circadian disruptions during adolescence. Here, we will review the evidence that disruptions in circadian rhythmicity during adolescence have effects that persist into adulthood. As biological and social time often conflict in modern society, with school start times misaligned with adolescents’ endogenous rhythms, it is critical to understand the long-term impacts of disrupted circadian rhythmicity in adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110978
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
StatePublished - Jul 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience

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