Students Learning At Home Get More Sleep: Is It Enough?

Teenagers are notorious for staying up late and sleeping in. And poor sleep habits are persisting, even with changes to school schedules with the hybrid learning model.

With the return to a more regular school schedule in September, after not attending school in person since March, students’ sleep patterns are not that, patterns. Instead, the amount of sleep teenagers get each night depends directly on whether a student is learning in-person or at home.

According to Caring for Kids, a site that provides information for parents from pediatricians,  “sleep helps fuel your body and brain, and teens need more sleep because their minds and bodies are growing quickly.”

Public Health Ontario performed a study of sleep studies, synthesizing their findings to conclude, among other outcomes that “sleep duration was linked to less sleepiness and had a significant positive correlation with cognitive
performance; specifically, on executive functioning, school performance, and multipledomain cognitive functioning.” In other words, adequate sleep is connected with more brain function.

Getting enough sleep can keep your “circadian rhythm” in balance, reaching the rapid eye movement cycle that is critical for giving the brain a rest.

Jiachen L, a grade 12 student at WCI, was taking Journalism from September 11th to the 16th in-person and his English class from September 17th to 30th, with the first five days being attended at home. According to data from his phone, while attending school in person, he usually went to bed between 11 pm and 1 am almost every night. He thinks his sleep schedule was reasonable, as he got at least seven hours of sleep every night, and he also believes this kept him energized for the next day.

According to the tracking data, He slept an hour more every day when he was learning from home. 

“I don’t have to go to school, thus I can sleep longer,” he said. 

Yufan Z., also a grade 12 student at WCI, is taking International Business and Media Art.  As her tracking data shows, between September 11th and September 30th, when she was attending school in-person, she went to bed between 1:00 and 3:00 am and got up at 7:30 in the morning. When she had online courses, she usually went to bed at 1:00 am and woke up at 8:00 am.

When asked if the schedule was reasonable, YuFan said, “I don’t think my sleeping habits are reasonable. Students should have better/healthier schedules.” In addition to her daily classwork, she also likes to use the rest of the day to practice her painting skills, and she’s also a fan of anime thus she spends a lot of time watching videos before sleeping.

Because of the lack of adequate sleep, she says she usually feels sleepy in class and is easily distracted. However, she also said she is trying to adapt to a new sleep schedule to get a better mental state.

Grade 12 Zhuojun X has Advanced Functions and Communication Technology this quadmester. According to his sleep records, when he attended school in person between September 11th and September 30th, he usually went to sleep at 12:00 am and got up at 7:15 am. But when he attended the online courses, his schedule shifted: he slept from 1:30 am to 9:00 am. 

He said he tried to sleep at least seven hours a day, but for various reasons (homework, club activities, playing on his phone), he only got six most of the time. 

“I don’t always get the right amount of sleep,” he said, “but it’s usually okay.” He added, “I drink tea in the morning if I don’t get enough sleep, so I feel good anyway. And I sleep a lot on weekends.” He is currently trying to go to bed earlier and take a half-hour nap in the afternoon to stay up for the rest of the day.

Phoebe is a grade 11 student currently studying grade 11 math and grade 12 journalism at WCI. As her data from between September 11th and 30th shows, she usually has about 7 hours of sleep each night (except weekends). 

While attending school, she falls asleep at about 11:00 pm and wakes up at 7.30 am. While learning from home, she usually slept from 11:30 pm until 8.30 am the next day. She says she often listens to podcasts before going to bed because it helps her to fall asleep faster.

Phoebe also thinks she “has a reasonable schedule and she’s well-rested.” Adequate sleep always allows her to complete school work efficiently during a course.

This is a limited sample of students’ sleep habits. According to Johns Hopkins pediatrician Michael Crocetti, teens need nine to nine and a half hours of sleep per night. But none of those asked here are getting the required nine hours of sleep per night. For the sake of students’ health, they may need to pay more attention to their after-school schedules.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also says, “Lack of sleep can lead to mental disorders/sleep disorders are one of the early symptoms of mental disorders.”

Based on data from 2013/2014, Public Health Canada shared these recommendations for improving sleep in teenagers: