(ORDO NEWS) — The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a significant blow to people’s mental health, and adolescents have been particularly affected, as school closures have cut off millions of young and old children from friends, teachers and any semblance of normalcy.
The negative psychological consequences of this have been documented in many studies, but at least one source suggests that school closures have significant positive effects on students as well.
In a new study from Switzerland, researchers found that Swiss teens who were homeschooled during school closings between March and June 2020 as part of the first wave of the pandemic ended up getting significantly more sleep than before school closings. correlated with other improvements in their well-being.
“During isolation, students received about 75 minutes more sleep per day,” says developmental pediatrics researcher Oscar Jenny of the University of Zurich (UZH).
“At the same time, their health-related quality of life has improved significantly, and their alcohol and caffeine consumption has decreased.”
For the study, Jenny and colleagues conducted an online survey of over 3,600 high school students in the Zurich region, asking them questions about sleep patterns, as well as other health and behavioral questions.
The findings were then compared with those of a previous survey of over 5,300 students conducted in 2017, well before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The comparison showed that during the school week, the homeschooling group woke up on average 90 minutes later than the control group; however, they also went to bed about 15 minutes late, meaning they had a total sleep deprivation of about 75 minutes each day.
At the same time, some of the health and behavioral indicators of the isolation group improved compared to the control group, suggesting that the additional 75 minutes of daily sleep made them feel better about some issues – although other effects of isolation in the setting could be seen in the responses. pandemics.
“Teens in a group of isolated adolescents showed higher scores on items related to feeling well, being energized, having enough time for themselves, and being able to do what they wanted in their free time,” the researchers write in their work, led by the first author and researcher of neuropsychology. UZH Joel N. Albrecht.
“However, isolated teens felt lonelier and sadder and had less fun with their friends.”
The results show that while the effects of isolation from homeschooling while isolated had some negative effects on teens, Jenny said the extra sleep seemed to have a benefit that made days at home more bearable in the long run.
“While school closures have clearly impacted the health and well-being of many young people, our results show positive aspects of school closures that have received little attention so far,” says Jenny.
“Our results clearly show the benefits of starting school later so that teens can sleep more.”
At least on this point, we probably shouldn’t be too surprised. For several years in a row, numerous studies have shown evidence that the school day should start later, with adolescents who receive additional eye strain due to later starting time of school, showing increased alertness and well-being, and also report better sleep and ability to concentrate and learn.
Some experts even believe that teens should not start school until 10 or even 11 a.m. at the earliest. The new study is not so definitive, but it is further evidence that it is beneficial for children to start school later, even in conditions of isolation and difficulties associated with school closures due to the pandemic.
“The findings suggest that school closures have allowed students to better align their sleep schedule with late-phase sleep in adolescents,” the researchers explain.
“Most importantly, to our knowledge, this study provides the first scientific evidence of the beneficial effects of school closures on adolescent sleep and health.”
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