Online school affects students’ sleep schedule


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Students must work in front of computers for more hours than before the pandemic because of remote learning.

As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, schools across the country are dealing with whether to allow students back into school. In Cherry Hill for almost 3 months, teachers have taken on teaching their classes online behind screens. Due to the pandemic outbreak, many school districts such as the Cherry Hill School District initially started school only using a remote schedule. Even with the Cherry Hill School District’s new hybrid schedule, many students have chosen to stay at home and learn from their computer screens. Since so many students, not only in Cherry Hill, but also in other schools worldwide are staring at computers for such long periods of time, questions about student safety arise even as we avoid Covid-19.

Recently, Johns Hopkins University came out with an article called, “The Sleep Deprived Brain,” which shows that students have had a lack of sleep from hours a day because they’re staring at a computer screen. These prolonged hours looking at a screen causes “deficits in the prefrontal cortex” of the brain.

A study by Johns Hopkins University surveyed numerous students about their transition into the online learning environment and found an increasingly concerning problem with sleeping habits. In an interview with The NewsLetter, the director of the Hopkins pediatric sleep center, Dr. Laura Sterni, expressed her concern with technology disrupting sleep cycles. Altered sleeping patterns affect the body’s circadian rhythm, which acts as the body’s internal clock.

Dr. Katzenstien explains how the body’s circadian rhythm is affected by light exposure. The body goes “to sleep when it’s dark and [wakes] up when it’s light.” Screen light, also known as blue light, confuses this rhythm and causes a lack of sleep. Doctors recommend to refrain from screen time for at least an hour before bed and to do something relaxing. Our brains need adequate time to relax because technology keeps the mind awake and alert. According to the Sleep Foundation, kids at home are tempted to take more naps and 60 percent more kids have reported a hard time waking up.

All in all, Covid-19 has caused students to have to adapt to remote learning. The most important takeaway is to prioritize a good night’s sleep.