Students taking online courses during Covid-19 'got significantly more sleep'

Students taking online courses during the Covid-19 pandemic got significantly more sleep, according to a new paper.

Schools across America imposed different rules from March 2020 to limit the spread of the virus. Some offered online options without live classes or scheduled interaction with teachers, and those children slept the most, according to a new paper published in the journal Sleep.

On the flip side, those receiving in-person instruction woke up the earliest and slept the least.

Researchers received complete sleep outcome data from 5,245 adolescents across the U.S. from grade 6 up to grade 12.

Middle school students up to age 13 need nine hours in bed for sufficient sleep, while high school students aged 14 to 18 need at least eight hours a night.

Only a fifth of middle school students got sufficient sleep if they were learning in-person, rising to 37 per cent of high school students in the same situation.

Meanwhile, over four-fifths of high school students got eight hours sleep a day if they were offered online tuition without live classes, up from 57 per cent if they had live classes.

Students across the board got more sleep if their school had a later start time, but online courses made a significant difference to the amount of sufficient sleep children received on school days.

"Without the required transportation time or time required to get ready for school in the morning, online students were able to wake later, and thus get more sleep," said Lisa Meltzer, the lead author of the study.

Middle school students needed a start time of 8:30 am to 9:00 am to get enough sleep, while high school students only got enough sleep if their online classes started after 8 am, or an hour later in person.

Hybrid schedules, including at least one day in school, resulted in the greatest variety in the amount of sleep students got from night to night.

"Both inconsistent sleep patterns and not getting enough sleep have negative downstream effects on adolescent health," said Meltzer. "It is important for education and health policymakers to consider the consequences of early and variable school start times on sleep for secondary school students."

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