Chronotype reflects the morningness-eveningness preference over a 24-h period. Significant data indicates meaningful differences between evening types (ET) and morning types (MT) in behavior, personality traits, health and well-being. The aim of this study was to investigate cortisol response and subjective perceived stress of MT and ET individuals in response to an acute natural stressor. Twenty six definite MT (mean age 23.4 ± 1.7) and twenty six definite ET (mean age 23.8 ± 1.3) college students were recruited for this study. Participants were instructed to evaluate their perceived subjective stress and to provide saliva samples for cortisol levels at four different time points: Morning of regular school day, morning immediately before a final exam, afternoon of a regular school day and afternoon immediately before a final exam. For general mood assessment, the participants were also asked to fill out the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) questionnaire. The most outstanding finding of this study was the blunting of cortisol increase in response to acute stress in the morning in the ET group: Salivary cortisol was higher before a final exam only in MT but not in ET. However, no differences between the groups were found in the subjective stress measure. In the PANAS scale, ET showed lower positive affect, and a trend towards a higher negative affect. Overall, our results suggest dysregulation of cortisol response in ET individuals, possibly due to their daily struggle to function in a morning-oriented society. These results further highlight the challenges faced by ET individuals and raise the question of possible interventions to assist them.
- blunted cortisol response
- circadian disruption