According to the findings of a new study, different teaching styles imposed by schools during the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in huge disparities in when and how much pupils slept.
The study’s findings have been published in the journal ‘SLEEP’.
Notably, students getting online instruction in the absence of live classrooms or scheduled teacher interactions slept the most and woke up the latest.
Students enrolled in schools getting in-person teaching awoke the earliest and slept the least.
Beginning in March 2020, as states and localities implemented lockdowns to halt the spread of COVID-19, schools and school systems began educating youngsters in new ways.
Some schools continued to provide instruction in-person in school premises. Others shifted to a mixed model of instruction. Certain businesses shifted totally online.
Scheduling requirements varied dramatically (e.g., specific start time, day-to-day variability in scheduled instruction).
Additionally, online alternatives varied. Certain institutions required students to log into online classes at predetermined times and communicate directly with teachers.
Other institutions did not have scheduled classes, and students were fully responsible for their own work.
Between October 14 and November 26, 2020, researchers used social media (Facebook and Instagram) to enrol US adolescents in grades 6-12 to evaluate correlations between instructional techniques, school start times, and sleep during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adolescents chose one of three educational strategies for each weekday (Monday – Friday) the previous week: in-person; online/synchronous (live online classrooms or interactions with teachers); or online/asynchronous (online, but without live classes or scheduled teacher interactions).
The researchers collected comprehensive data on sleep outcomes from 5,245 teenagers across the United States.
20.4 percent of middle school students and 37.2 percent of high school students reported getting enough sleep on in-person instructional days (at least 9 hours for middle school and at least 8 hours for high school).
Students enrolled in live online classrooms reported getting enough sleep in 38.7 percent of middle school students and 56.9 percent of high school students.
However, more than 62% of middle school students and more than 81% of high school students attending online courses without live classes reported obtaining enough sleep.
Students in both middle and high school slept better if their schools started later.
Even though students had the same early start hours, those enrolled in online courses that required them to log in at particular times slept better than those enrolled in in-person teaching.
“Without the time required for commuting or preparing for school in the morning, online students were able to sleep in later and so receive more sleep,” said Lisa Meltzer, the study’s primary author.
For middle school students, an 8:30-9:30 start time (in-person or online with live classes) resulted in the highest percentage of kids obtaining enough sleep.
For high school students, the percentage of pupils obtaining enough sleep exceeded 50% only when the online school day began at 8:00-8:29 a.m. or later.
For in-person education, 50% of high school pupils slept well only when classes began at 9:00 a.m.
Hybrid regimens that included at least one day of in-person training had the largest night-to-night variability in bedtimes, waking timings, and sleep duration.
“Both irregular sleep patterns and insufficient sleep have a detrimental influence on adolescent health,” Meltzer explained.
“As a result, it is critical for education and health policymakers to examine the impact of early and variable school start times on secondary school students’ sleep,” Meltzer said.
Visit www.mixpoint.in for more interesting stories.