Chronotype-Dependent Changes in Sleep and Performance Components Caused by the Transition to Digital Teaching Due to COVID-19 Infection Control Measures in German Students

DSpace Repository


Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2023-11-21
Language: English
Faculty: 7 Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Department: Biologie
Advisor: Randler, Christoph (Prof. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2023-10-17
DDC Classifikation: 570 - Life sciences; biology
Order a printed copy: Print-on-Demand
Show full item record


This thesis is concerned with chronotype dependent changes in sleep and performance components in students influenced by Coronavirus Induced Disease 2019 (COVID-19) policy measures. Five interrelated studies were conducted. The first study showed positive effects of remote working environments on sleep (increased sleep duration, decreased Social Jetlag (SJL)). The changes were attributed to the elimination of commuting time and more flexible working hours. The second study replicated these findings and showed a reduction in daytime sleepiness as a further positive effect on students’ sleep. In addition to these positive effects, a loss of sleep timing regularity was reported. This negative effect on sleep was interpreted as a consequence of unlimited temporal flexibility regarding lecture times. In both studies, these changes were more pronounced as evening orientation increased. In the third study, sleep timing was reconsidered in two samples that differed in their working environment (onsite/remote working). No differences were found, suggesting that sleep timing is not affected by spatial flexibility. The fourth study showed that evening oriented individuals split their work time significantly more than their morning oriented peers in an environment of unrestricted temporal flexibility. Eveningness (EV) related negatively to scales that in turn have been shown to be positively associated with performance components (e.g., Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB), creativity in problem-solving approaches). These relationships were interpreted as a result of the limited interaction with peers and lecturers. The fifth study showed a relationship between Morningness (MA) and variables conducive to learning (vitality, self-efficacy, satisfied need for competence and conscientiousness), whereas EV was correlated with a more detrimental variable (frustrated need for autonomy). Taken together, the results of the first three studies suggest that the sleep health of evening types could be improved by delaying social time constraints. To minimize negative side effects, temporal flexibility should be limited. In contrast, spatial flexibility had no effect on sleep timing regularity, but as a means of reducing time constraints, it offered the opportunity to promote positive changes in participants’ sleep. Evening oriented individuals were particularly impaired by the reduction in social contacts, as they needed peer support to feel effective and creative. The second, fourth and fifth studies showed that evening oriented individuals were limited in their ability to cope with pandemic working environments, as some personality traits associated with evening orientation have been shown to have detrimental effects. Thus, classes that do not allow for peer interaction (such as recorded lectures), result in an educational disadvantage for evening oriented students. Therefore, in order to better support them in similar settings, exchange and interaction spaces need to be created and integrated into the teaching process. At a general level, students’ Basic Psychological Needs (BPN) should be improved.

This item appears in the following Collection(s)