Research

Effect on Sleep Deprivation in Young Students

Written by Lisa Rennie

Virtual learning may be nothing new, but it has exploded over the past year due to the ongoing health crisis. In many parts of the country, young students choose to learn from home, while in other regions, students have yet to go back to in-person learning since the pandemic started.

The ramifications of virtual learning are vast, and one area that may be affecting kids is sleep. Could online learning be causing sleep deprivation in young students?

Impact on Regular Schedules

There may not be as much of a need to get up at a specific hour with remote learning to ensure kids make it to school before the bell. There’s more time to play around with, which can encourage kids to not only get up later but go to sleep later at night as well.

When students are not on a set schedule — which includes waking up at the same time for school — children are less likely to get the recommended amount of sleep they need.

And in parts of the country where quarantining is much more stringently enforced, getting outside can be a challenge, which can also impact energy levels. In turn, this can harm sleep.

Increased Screen Time

Remote learning also relies heavily on digital devices. Rather than being in a classroom setting, kids participating in virtual learning are now finding themselves in front of a computer screen for hours a day.

Staring at a computer screen for an extended period can interfere with the sleep cycle, as most screens feature blue light in the background. Blue light can suppress melatonin’s secretion, a hormone that plays a crucial role in the natural sleep-wake cycle. Being exposed to too much blue light — especially later on in the day — may have a negative effect on sleep patterns.

According to the Stanford Medicine News Center, lack of adequate sleep can make it more difficult to concentrate, leading to poor grades. What’s worse, sleep deprivation among children can also cause anxiety and depression. Poor mental health can further reduce children’s academic performance at school.

Virtual learning is already keeping kids from their schoolmates and participating in school activities, but it may also have a potentially negative impact on students’ sleep.

Virtual learning is already keeping kids from their schoolmates and participating in school activities, but it may also have a potentially negative impact on students’ sleep.Image source: emrah özaras from Pixabay

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Lisa Rennie

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