Encouragement of improved sleeping habits, according to the experts, might help lower teen stress and enhance their ability to manage in times of crisis.
The research, which was published in the journal Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, looks at pre-pandemic sleep habits as well as stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a new study from McGill University, while poor sleep was associated to greater levels of stress during the COVID-19 pandemic, more teenagers actually got the required amount of sleep compared to pre-pandemic sleep trends. Lockdowns caused changes in everyday patterns, allowing teens to follow their biological instincts to wake up and sleep later, lowering daytime drowsiness.
“The pandemic has shown that delaying school start times could help and should be implemented by schools interested in supporting the mental health of their students,” said lead author Reut Gruber, a Full Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University.
During the pandemic, the wake up and sleep time of teens shifted by about two hours later. Many teens also slept longer and had less of a need to catch up on lost sleep during the weekend.
The researchers explain that eliminating the early drive, delaying the start of school, and cancelling extracurricular activities allowed teenagers to follow their “delayed biological rhythm,” or natural propensity to rise up and go to bed later. These improvements meant that teenagers had more “usable hours” during the week to finish their schoolwork and didn’t have to forgo sleep to meet their responsibilities. During the COVID-19 epidemic, similar findings were reported in a number of nations throughout the world.
The researchers found a connection between the number of sleep teenagers were getting before the pandemic and their level of arousal at bedtime were linked to higher to reduce stress,” said Gruber, who is also the Director of the Attention, Behavior and Sleep Laboratory at the Douglas Research Centre.
“The tendency of teens not getting enough sleep was already a global concern prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever it’s critical we tackle the problem,” said co-author Sujata Saha, a Principal at Heritage Regional High School of the Riverside School Board.
“Across the world, the pandemic has increased levels of uncertainty and psychological stress. It’s projected that today’s elevated mental health challenges will continue well beyond the pandemic itself.”
“Not sleeping enough and being overly stimulated before bedtime is poor habits that are modifiable. We can target these behaviors with preventative measures to reduce teens stress in the face of over whelming situation like to COVID-19 pandemic.” Said Gruber (ANI)