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School starting at least 60 minutes later will help children

School closures in 2020 and 2021 had a negative impact on the health and well-being of many young people. However, special learning also had a positive side effect: Many teens reported better health and a health-related quality of life from sleeping longer in the morning. So the study authors from the University of Zurich believe school days should start late in the morning.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, schools have been closed several times and digital education has been introduced. Several studies have reported that during this time, young adults developed symptoms of depression and anxiety, among other things, while more people became dissatisfied with their lives. School children were also less physically active and spent more time sitting in front of screens.

right Now Study at the University of Zurich (UZH) showed that a period of special education also had a positive effect on the health and well-being of many adolescents. said study co-leader Oscar Jenny, professor of developmental pediatrics at UZH. The reason for sleeping longer was that since they no longer had to travel to school, they were able to wake up later.

Researchers in the canton of Zurich conducted an online survey of 3,664 high school students during the 2020 lockdown, asking them about their sleep habits and quality of life. The answers were then compared to a 2017 survey of 5,308 young adults. The results showed that during the three months that schools were closed, the teens woke up after about 90 minutes on school days, but slept on average after just 15 minutes — an increase in their total sleep of about 75 minutes per day. Over the weekend, there was little difference between the two groups’ bedtimes.

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“While the closure has clearly deteriorated the health and well-being of many young people, our findings reveal a positive aspect of school closures that has so far received little attention,” Jenny said of the findings.

A teen’s lack of sleep can lead to general fatigue, anxiety, and physical complaints. These, in turn, negatively affect cognitive functions such as concentration, memory, and attention, making functioning in daily life significantly more difficult. Starting school too early interferes with the normal, biologically defined sleep habits of teens. Many young people suffer from chronic sleep deprivation because they have to get up early for school. This topic has recently been on the political agenda in many cantons of the country.

“Our results clearly show that it would be beneficial to start the study later in the morning so that young people can sleep more,” says Jenny. It assumes that the positive effects on health and health-related quality of life would have been increased even if the pandemic had not had negative mental health effects as well.

There is already an initiative in Hungary that will delay the start of classes after 30-60 minutes. Based on the initial research, seven out of ten participants heard of the proposal to start education for high school students not at 8.00 but later, from 8.30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., so that there would be less public transportation at the same time and there would be More distance between people. And two-thirds of people like the idea.