The sleep-wake cycle of students is characterized by delayed onset, partial sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality. Like other circadian rhythms, the sleep-wake cycle is influenced by endogenous and environmental factors. The aim of the present study was to determine the effects of different class starting times on the sleep-wake pattern of 27 medical students. The data were collected during two medical school semesters having different class starting times. All subjects answered the Portuguese version of the Horne and Ostberg Morningness/Eveningness Questionnaire, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and kept a sleep diary for two weeks during each semester. Better sleep quality (PSQI = 5.3 vs 3.4), delayed sleep onset (23:59 vs 0:54 h) and longer sleep duration (6 h and 55 min vs 7 h and 25 min) were observed with the late schedule. We also found reduced sleep durations during weekdays and extended sleep durations during weekends. This pattern was more pronounced during the semester with the early class schedule, indicating that the students were more sleep deprived when their classes began earlier in the morning. These results require further investigation regarding the temporal organization of our institutions.