Students Choosing to Learn From Home Get Extra Sleep


Thomas Terminella

Students coming to school in the morning are getting less sleep than those who choose to stay at home.

For some, the words “extra sleep” inspire happiness. This extra sleep was the one silver lining for most students while schools were still locked down. Now that students have a choice, they are having a rough time choosing between more sleep and getting back to the classroom. 

“It affects my choice,” said 8th grader Noah J., referring to the sleep issue. “If I were to stay at home and do all virtual, I would get more sleep than if I had to go in person,” said 8th grade student Noah J who is currently in person.

Sleep in adolescents has long been an issue that clashes with early start times, especially in middle schools. According to the Sleep Foundation, a major factor in teens not getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep each night is what they call the “night owl” effect. Simply put, teens just don’t get tired until later in the evening. Their melatonin (the sleep hormone) doesn’t kick in early enough to get a full night’s sleep before their early morning start times.

One study published in the Elsevier Public Health Emergency Collection, a collection of information gathered to help deal with the pandemic, aimed to see whether pandemic-related school schedule changes made a measurable impact on sleep in teens. The study took place in Canada, where pandemic schedule changes pushed the school start time back to 10:00 am.  

Students participating in the study said that over the Covid-19 pandemic, they had gotten close to the same amount of sleep even though they stayed up later. That’s because they now get that extra hour or more in the morning to sleep in. Comments from the study show that the reasons for the improved sleep are largely due to the fact that the respondents can stay up later because they have more time in the morning to sleep.

In a study done by Kenneth Wright and colleagues of the Department of Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado, Boulder students are getting about 30 more minutes of sleep during the week and about 24 more minutes on the weekend during the pandemic. Even though they get more sleep, the study published by the University of Washington shows that students are going to bed about 50 minutes later. The study, also reported on CNN, shows that now, because of the pandemic, the number of students getting seven hours or more of sleep on weekends has gone from 84% to 92%.

Putting the same questions to Longfellow students showed slightly different results. “Overall, I probably got eight to nine hours of sleep each night [before schools closed],” said Noah. Students like Noah believe that they had good sleep even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“I think I got a good amount of sleep, but that’s mainly because the days felt a lot shorter since it was winter,” said 8th grader Zachary S. who currently attends school in person.

Another 8th grader, Ben B., who is still distance learning, claims that his level of tiredness has changed a lot since online school began. 

“During school before the pandemic, I was really tired during class because I had to wake up early to walk to the bus,” Ben explained. “[Now] I am really only tired at first period (or second period depending on what day it is); otherwise, I am not really that tired during the day.” 

However, a majority of students have still opted to come back to the building, despite the early start time. 

“I feel like it’s better to go in person because I feel I would be too lazy if I didn’t. I think I would be sleeping through class, and I wouldn’t be able to pay attention,” said Zachary. 

For now, students can make that choice to attend virtually when they are feeling tired in the mornings, but FCPS announced on May 5th that next year the online options will be minimal. Students will need to have a “documentable health reason related to COVID-19.” 

For now, though, if you are a distance learner, you may be staying up later, but you can tell your parents you are getting more sleep.