*The following is excerpted from an online article posted by ScienceAlert.
In a new study from Switzerland, researchers found Swiss teenagers who were home-schooled during school closures between March and June 2020 in the first wave of the pandemic ended up getting significantly more sleep than before the lockdown, which correlated with other improvements in their wellbeing.
“The students got about 75 minutes more sleep per day during the lockdown,” says developmental pediatrics researcher Oskar Jenni from the University of Zurich (UZH). “At the same time, their health-related quality of life improved significantly, and their consumption of alcohol and caffeine went down.”
In the study, Jenni and fellow researchers conducted an online survey of over 3,600 high school students from the Zurich region, with questions that asked them about their sleep patterns, along with other questions that related to health and behavioral characteristics.
The results were then compared with a previous survey of over 5,300 students conducted in 2017, long before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The comparison showed that during the school week, the home-schooling group woke up around 90 minutes later on average than the teenagers in the control group; however, they also went to bed around 15 minutes later, meaning in total their sleep surplus was about 75 minutes each day.
At the same time, some of the lockdown group’s health-related and behavioral characteristics were improved compared to the control group, suggesting the extra 75 minutes of daily sleep made them feel better about some things – even though other effects of the isolation in the pandemic could also be observed in the responses.
According to Jenni, the results show that while the isolation effects of home-schooling during lockdown had some negative repercussions on teenagers, that extra amount of sleep did appear to deliver benefits that made stuck-at-home days more tolerable in the long run.
“Our findings clearly indicate the benefit of starting school later in the morning so that youngsters can get more sleep.”
On that count, at least, we probably shouldn’t be too surprised. For several years now, numerous studies have shown evidence that the school day should start later, with teenagers getting extra-shut eye due to later school start times showing improved alertness and wellbeing, in addition to reporting better sleep and ability to concentrate and study.
The findings are reported in JAMA Network Open.