A study published by the University of Zurich displayed findings that are relatively unsurprising yet are still worth noting, these findings being that while students last year were largely learning at home, they were sleeping for a more adequate amount of time. Of course, while this is considered to be a positive result of less than desirable circumstances, it would be most ideal to attain these same benefits while avoiding the negatives.
There was a tremendous amount of baggage that came with this up-tick in sleep per night on average. The pandemic surging through Switzerland (where the study was done) and the rest of the world has been documented thoroughly, but on top of that due to the social isolation that came with the many lockdowns in order to combat the spread of the virus, many people including the teens saw a dramatic lack of satisfaction with their lives paired with a rise in anxiety and depression.
Although these findings were not made during the best circumstances for the greater whole of society, there was definitely something positive to take away from it, and not just COVID tests. According to the researchers in Zurich, students experienced an increase of up to “75 minutes more sleep per day” during lockdown while school was virtual. This could perhaps be due to the absence of a morning commute time and leaving certain household obligations that are typically done in the morning for later in the day, due to their consistent proximity to said obligations. Furthermore, the researchers noticed an increase in the student’s quality of life health-wise as well in certain areas. For example, due to a lack of vigor now that their academics are virtual and social gatherings became obsolete in the time of lockdown, caffeine and alcohol consumption rates dropped quite significantly. While this secondary positive effect is also great, it was not the focal point of the study and is currently not the focal point of this post. The amount of sleep students were getting as opposed to their previous amounts is the most
important result of the study.
The study, conducted online and focusing on “high school students in the Canton of Zurich” surveyed 3,664 students and questioned them on their daily sleeping patterns and was taken over the course of 3 months. The results were then compared with data from a similar study conducted in 2017 among 5,308 participants. The results were borderline staggering. The students slept an average of 90 minutes later than they normally would pre-virtual school despite only going to sleep an average of 15 minutes later.
It’s no secret that being well-rested improves overall health and well being, especially in the long term. “Chronic lack of sleep” is mentioned in the study as being an all-too-typical problem for most teens and not only contributes to poor overall health but also poor daily functioning as fatigue, lack of focus, and a general indifference to tasks are described as effects of this. Overall, one of the few joys that these students were able to experience during this unprecedented time of human existence was also one of the most needed and most simple; a good night’s sleep.