It’s no secret that teenagers tend to stay up later than they should, and would generally rather sleep till noon the next morning. But with early school start times, those night-owl teens are often woefully sleep deprived. And sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on mental health and quality of life.
A recent research study published in the JAMA Network Pediatrics revealed a sleep-success outcome of the Covid-19 pandemic. Apparently there was a silver lining to the stress of those isolating months: increased sleep. The mandatory high school closures of 2020 allowed for teenagers to sleep later in the mornings and this additional sleep resulted in quality of life improvements.
Researchers from the University of Zurich surveyed more than 3500 high schoolers during the Spring 2020 pandemic lockdown about their quality of life and sleep habits. These results were then compared with a similar study of more than 5000 students in 2017. Not surprisingly, students were able to sleep about an hour and a half later in the mornings during the 2020 school shutdowns, yet only went to sleep 15 minutes later in the night. Which meant students achieved a whopping 75 more minutes of sleep time!
The 2020 surveyed students had better quality of life outcomes and less alcohol and caffeine usage than their 2017 counterparts. These improvements were unfortunately mediated by increased depressive symptoms during the isolating and anxious months of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, researchers asserted, “In this study, sleep gains were associated with better health-related characteristics among youths….”
Obviously we all hope to never face a similar pandemic and lockdown again. But in the meantime, research like this has brought powerful insight into the importance of longer sleep duration for teens. The authors of this significant article conclude with a powerful statement for school educators and administrators:
“The findings provide support for delaying school start times for adolescents.”
Check out the original research: