1. In this study, a greater percentage of students who received online/asynchronous instruction and later school start times reported more sufficient sleep than students who received in-person scheduled instruction and earlier school start times.
2. Students with later school start times reported more sleep hours than students with earlier school start times. This trend was observed across all instructional approaches.
Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed various aspects of society, including instructional approaches for many students. Sleep among the adolescent population has also been shown to be profoundly affected. However, there is a paucity in research addressing how altering instructional approaches (online and in-person) may impact adolescent sleep. The objective of this study was to examine the association between varying instructional approaches, school start times, and sleep among students during the pandemic in the United States.
In this observational cohort study, 5,245 racially and geographically diverse students (~50 percent female) were recruited through social media outlets (Facebook and Instagram) over six weeks. Students included were enrolled in grades 6-12 at the time of the survey, had internet access, and a United States residency. Students reported on instructional approach (in-person, online/synchronous, online/asynchronous), school start times, and bedtimes (BT) and waketimes (WT) on weekdays and weekends (no school days).
Results showed that BT and WT were earliest for students on in-person instructional days, followed by students on online/synchronous days and then online/asynchronous days. Sleep opportunity (ie the interval between BT and WT) was longer for students without scheduled instruction, with online/asynchronous students reporting 1.5 h sleep more than in-person students. Finally, students with online/synchronous instruction reported more sufficient sleep compared to students who were taught in-person. However, this study was limited in that sleep data was self-reported, and the variable sleep opportunity did not account for sleep onset latency or wake after sleep onset. Nonetheless, this study was significant because it was the first to reveal the effects of different secondary school instructional approaches on the sleep patterns and potential health of students.
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