During the lockdowns and periods of restrictions of the past two years, schools have closed access to classrooms by falling back on distance learning. Combined with forced isolation, it has had negative effects on physical and mental well-being and on student achievement. But the DAD would have at least one positive aspect, according to research from the University of Zurich: without having to get up early to get to the classroom, the children gained a healthy extra daily sleep.
The researchers conducted an online survey of 3,664 high school students in the Canton of Zurich during the first lockdown of 2020, from March to June, questioning them about their sleeping habits and on the quality of life. Compared to a similar 2017 survey, they went to sleep on average 15 minutes later during the week and got up 90 minutes later in the morning. thus sleeping about 75 minutes more than usual. Teenagers surveyed reported improved health-related quality of life and also consumed less coffee and less alcohol.
“Although the lockdown has clearly led to an overall deterioration in well-being for many people, our results show a positive side of the closure of schools which until now had received little attention “, says one of the authors, Professor Oskar Jenni. Without the others negative effects of home insulation, the positive ones brought about by the increase in the amount of sleep would probably have proved even more evident.
According to the researchers, the traditional start time of classes means for many students a chronic lack of sleep, cause of fatigue, anxiety and physical disorders, which in turn impact on cognitive abilities, for example by reducing concentration and attention. “Our study clearly highlights the benefits of starting school later, so that the children can sleep more “, concludes Jenni. Accustomed as we are to the traditional setting of schools, the suggestion may seem unlikely and impractical, but several cantons of Switzerland are actually considering this hypothesis.
The study was published in JAMA Network Open magazine.