School closures during the COVID-19 lockdowns, which accelerated homeschooling, had a favorable impact on teenagers’ health and health-related quality of life due to longer morning sleeps, according to a study.
On the other hand, multiple studies recorded an increase in symptoms of depression and anxiety among young people during the pandemic, as well as a decrease in satisfaction and quality of life. The schoolchildren were also less physically active and spent more time sitting in front of screens.
The new study by the University of Zurich (UZH) has shown that the students got about 75 minutes more of sleep per day during the lockdown. At the same time, their health-related quality of life improved significantly and their consumption of alcohol and caffeine went down,” said the study’s co-leader, Mr. Oskar Jenni, UZH professor of developmental pediatrics.
The researchers conducted an online survey with 3,664 high school students in the Canton of Zurich during the lockdown, asking about their sleep patterns and quality of life. They then compared the answers with a survey from 2017 with 5,308 young participants.
The results revealed that during the three months in which the schools were closed, the adolescents got up around 90 minutes later on school days, but went to bed only 15 minutes later on average, meaning their total amount of sleep increased by about 75 minutes a day. At weekends, there was little difference in the sleep times of the two groups.
Sleep deprivation in teens can result in tiredness, anxiety, and physical ailments. These, in turn, have a negative effect on cognitive abilities including concentration, memory, and attention, making it much more difficult to function in everyday life.
“Our findings clearly indicate the benefit of starting school later in the morning so that youngsters can get more sleep,” said Mr. Jenni.