Alaska Sleep Education Center

Online Learning Doesn't Improve Student Sleep Habits

Posted by Jennifer Hines

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on Jun 1, 2021 1:41:00 AM

Students taking an active part in a lesson while sitting in a lecture hall

New research from Simon Fraser University suggests that students learning remotely become night owls but do not sleep more despite the time saved commuting, working or attending social events.

The study, led by psychology professor Ralph Mistlberger, Andrea Smit and Myriam Juda, at SFU's Circadian Rhythms and Sleep Lab, compared self-reported data on sleep habits from 80 students enrolled in a 2020 summer session course at SFU with data collected from 450 students enrolled in the same course during previous summer semesters. The study results were recently published in the journal PLOS ONE.

"There is a widespread belief among sleep researchers that many people, especially young adults, regularly obtain insufficient sleep due to work, school, and social activities," says Mistlberger. "The move toward remote work and school during COVID-19 has provided a novel opportunity to test this belief."

The student participants kept daily sleep diaries over a period of two-to-eight weeks, completed questionnaires and provided written reports. Fitbit sleep tracker data was collected from a subsample of participants.

The team found that students learning remotely in the summer 2020 session went to bed an average of 30 minutes later than pre-pandemic students. They slept less efficiently, less at night and more during the day, but did not sleep more overall, despite having no early classes and 44 percent fewer work days compared to students in previous semesters.

"One very consistent finding is a collective delay of sleep timing -- people go to bed and wake up later," says Mistlberger. "Not surprisingly, there is also a marked reduction in natural light exposure, especially early in the day. The lack of change in sleep duration was a bit of a surprise, as it goes against the assumption that young adults would sleep more if they had the time."
Self-described night owls were more likely to report a greater positive impact on their sleep, getting to sleep in, instead of waking up early for that morning class, while morning types were more likely to report a negative response to sleeping later than usual. 

Sleep plays an important role in immune functioning and mental health, which is why good sleep habits are crucial.

"My advice for students and anybody working from home is to try to get outside and be active early in the day because the morning light helps stabilize your circadian sleep-wake cycle -- this should improve your sleep, and allow you to feel more rested and energized during the day," says Mistlberger.

Top 4 Tips to Promote Healthy Sleeping

Students enjoying their teacher's lesson.

According to statistics, college students sleep on average 6-6.9 hours. It is believed that the optimal sleep time for an adult is 6-10 hours. But as for 6 hours, this time may not be enough for everyone. And as for more hours of sleep, they are a gift for those who delegate their academic tasks and seek help on the Online Writers Rating custom writing services reviews platform. In this case, sleepless nights spent on writing an essay are excluded.

So, most teenagers sleep 6 hours a day. But how to do well in school when there is an obvious lack of sleep? You, as a teacher, need to teach them to take special care of the sleep. Especially if at the moment you are working with the primary school problems.

Student years will be even more stressful so you need to teach your pupils healthy sleep now. What is more important, in the future they will be able to pass on their healthy habit to their children. So by wanting to help your students, you will make a special contribution not only to their future.

How healthy sleep can help a child achieve academic success? Here are the main points you should rely on. Use them as the main thesis statements to explain to your kids the importance of healthy sleep on the first lectures. 

  • Lack of sleep will lead to a decrease in immunity.
  • Because of the lack of sleep, the child's psyche will be shaken and it will be difficult to cope with stress.
  • Healthy sleep will relieve irritation and help avoid mental health problems.
  • The concentration of attention decreases. It will be difficult for the child to cope with elementary tasks.
  • Memory and assimilation of new information is slow, so the brain is in a "sleepy" mode.
  • Increase in weight and decrease in physical activity, which will subsequently affect intellectual abilities.
  • Lack of production of hormones, which are very important in adolescence.

This is the basis from which you can start if you have not done this before. Below you will find practical tips to help you teach your students healthy sleeping.

Lecture On the Importance of Sleep

Prepare an educational lecture on the importance of sleep. By the way, you can give more than one lecture, conduct such training once a quarter. Of course, you will need to prepare new and different information, but this approach will allow your students to understand the whole essence of the problem.

Rely on the way your students perceive information better. Perhaps you should give the lecture in a question and answer format, or focus on visual information. Focus on your students and find an approach that will definitely work. Here are some practices you may start with. 

Start a Sleeping Diary

Lectures on the importance of sleep for teens may not be enough. For this reason, you need to show your students all this information in practice. But to make it not only easy, but also fun, give your students the task of keeping a sleep diary. Such a diary should include the following:

  • The time the student went to bed.
  • The woke up time.
  • Total sleep duration.
  • Sensations after waking up.
  • Description of the state of health after the first lesson.
  • How much time did they spend doing their homework?

After a week, review this data with students. So each student will be able to understand how sleep affects the feeling, well-being, and so on. This will be a good reinforcement of the lectures and then the students will be more motivated to improve the quality of their sleep.

Make A Memo for Students

Once your students have a clear understanding of the importance of sleep, you should provide them with a general reminder for good sleep. You can specify the following in this memo:

  • Ventilate the area before going to bed.
  • 1-1.5 before bedtime, keep away from gadgets, reading or watching TV.
  • Provide darkness in the bedroom.
  • Do not leave your smartphone near the pillow.
  • Use sleep masks.

You probably know the approximate daily routine of your students, and based on this, you can create an approximate daily schedule that will provide students with enough time to sleep. Of course, each student is unique, but such a schedule can be a starting point for customization based on personal characteristics.

Educational Lecture for Parents

Not all parents understand the importance of sleep and how it can help their child achieve academic success. Therefore, they allow children to go to bed after midnight, and on weekends they generally give free rein about the time to go to bed.

If parents are aware of the importance of sleep and how they can help the child, then they will do their best to help. So try to get all the parents together and have an informative conversation with them.

Also, identify those students who are more lethargic on a consistent basis. Most likely they have a systematic sleep disorder and need special attention. Try to help this student and talk to the parents about the problem personally.

The Final Words

Such easy steps from the sleep school will help to improve the quality of teens sleeping. It will be very pleasant to watch how the sleepiest student turns into an excellent pupil and those who did not have enough energy seem to wake up. So start acting as early as possible!

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Topics: students, sleep health

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