The impact of COVID-19 related school shutdown on sleep in adolescents: a natural experiment.

TitleThe impact of COVID-19 related school shutdown on sleep in adolescents: a natural experiment.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsGruber R, Saha S, Somerville G, Boursier J, Wise MS
JournalSleep Med
Date Published2020 Sep 22

OBJECTIVE: During the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, high schools closed or transitioned to remote teaching. The aim of this study was to describe how the COVID-19 related school shutdown impacted the sleep behaviors of typically developing adolescents.METHODS: A qualitative study was conducted between April 28 and June 3, 2020 with 45 adolescents using one-on-one semi-structured phone interviews.RESULTS: The "natural experiment" caused by the shutdown of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to a 2-h shift in the sleep of typically developing adolescents, longer sleep duration, improved sleep quality, and less daytime sleepiness compared to those experienced under the regular school-time schedule.DISCUSSION: These findings are consistent with previous studies showing that delaying high school start times could be an effective way to extend sleep duration, improve sleep quality, reduce daytime sleepiness and lower adolescents' stress during the school year. As many countries look for ways to reduce the number of interactions between students in schools so that physical distancing is feasible, following teens' delayed sleep biology could offer an affordable solution. For example, staggering arrival times by delaying school start time for older adolescents compared with younger adolescents can reduce the total number of students attending school at the same time. This strategy offers a practical means to reduce school density and the number of interactions between students which are needed to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 in schools, while improving adolescents sleep health.

Alternate JournalSleep Med
PubMed ID33070000
PubMed Central IDPMC7508172