Increased Sleep During Lockdown Learning


Gabriella Rodriguez, Staff Writer

The pandemic has taken its toll on most everything. Businesses and schools have been suspended and conducted online since last March. Activities and social gatherings feel broken. Yet amid all the concern and disappointment, there is something that has emerged as a silver lining to this lockdown: this situation could allow students and staff to get more sleep than ever before. 

Along with the transition to all classes online, the District and Board of Education  modified the 2019-2020 daily schedule and school calendars. Regular days originally began at 8:10, with the exception of Early Bird classes at 7:15. Compared to the new start at 8:15, it may not seem like there has been a large change. However, it is worth noting that without the need for transportation, there is more time allocated for sleep and morning preparation. Additionally, in contrast to the previous passing periods of five minutes, the online learning schedule at Deerfield provides 15 minute transitions between classes. Given the fatigue that can result from staring at the computer at length, this is a substantial break for students and teachers to prepare for their next classes. To add, since the new schedule consistently designates one hour for lunchtime, there is no longer overlap in the cycle schedule lunch rotations.

Most extracurricular activities have been suspended due to COVID-19 concerns, and without the need for transportation to them, this means there is generally more free time after school for students to be able to complete their homework. Further, this can lead to more rest. According to Mr. Vora, a psychology teacher at DHS, sleep is one of the central factors in adolescent development. “Good quality sleep is as essential to health as diet and exercise,” he explains. “Most teenagers need to be sleeping for nine to ten hours an evening.” During these high school years, sleep is often forgotten in lieu of assignments and commitments out of school. However, since modifications to the daily schedule and asynchronous days have been formalized in a way that promotes rest, students and staff have the chance to receive the sleep they need. In turn, this could benefit their mental and physical health. 

Now that winter months have set in, days have become substantially shorter. Sunrises occur later in the morning, and sunsets happen earlier in the afternoon. “The shorter days simply affect us by not getting the same light exposure we are used to,” Mr. Vora says. The circadian sleep cycle is dependent on this factor. By extent, melatonin production is directly tied to this cycle. In teenagers it tends to peak at around one in the morning. With darkness approaching at earlier times, this sequence leads to longer hours of rest (Kauffman). While it is predominantly tied to its benefits, winter sleep can have drawbacks when it becomes excessive. “This predispositions some into Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) which is often accompanied by lower mood and lower motivation,” Mr. Vora notes. Especially during the pandemic, it is important to remember well-being. As prevalent challenges impose on daily life, many people experience a decline in their general health. Troubles can make quarantine seem hopeless at worst, but they do not wholly define this time. There are elements of the lockdown that help instead of harm.

Additional rest at this time allows for potential to thrive. Is it established that increased sleep can promote academic performance. Mr. Vora explains, “The relationship between sleep and memory is profound. Sleep literally helps consolidate newly learned information and helps improve scores by eight to ten percent. This relates to academic performance because the most disciplined students have the best wellness habits.” Since online learning is new to many students, it can be difficult to adjust, and even more so to excel. An opportunity to rest more can alleviate the academic struggle. It encourages success where it might otherwise seem hindered.

Though it is undoubtedly hard to cope with the current situation, it is not impossible. 

Adapting to the present schedules can feel daunting. However, the chance to get more sleep is one favorable outcome from the lockdown. It is essential to make the most of this time, and repose is a great way to fill it. As the crisis continues, it is best to rest well and take care.