Eat, Sleep, E-Learn, Repeat


Makena Steffens, Staff Writer

As the pandemic continues to exist in the lives of everyone around the world, many things such as schools, jobs, and businesses are forced to adjust.  Schools have been doing online learning since March 2020 and there are many ways that students have had to switch up their everyday lives.

A common trend that has come around more recently is the topic of students not getting the sleep they need every night due to doing school online.  There are a couple factors that are directly affected by this switch from in person to online that include the increased amount of screen time and having too much work with not enough time in a day to get it done.   

Staring at a computer all day is hard for the eyes of the students.  This has been found to cause headaches that do not allow students to fall asleep easily, or it makes the students feel extra tired during times of the day when they would normally feel most awake.  In a survey of 43 responses, 58.1 percent of participants reported that they have experienced some sort of sleep loss due to e-learning.  Following that, during an interview Emma Jean Carlson says that  “it makes me tired easily and gives me headaches that make it hard to fall asleep” in her online schooling experience.  Brendan Prior explains in his article written in the Western Front that someone he interviewed said “people should stick to a clear schedule, get some fresh daylight in the morning, exercise throughout the day and turn off screens one to two hours before going to bed, which she acknowledges is difficult due to online schooling.”  With the online school, it is hard for the students to stay motivated enough to maintain their “clear schedule,” especially when they feel the effects of sleep deprivation.

The second factor that causes sleep loss in students with e-learning is that teachers are told to assign 30 minutes of “asynchronous” work every night.  This is a reasonable amount, given that school days on live meetings are short, but when multiple teachers double or triple that work load, the time before the sun goes down is limited.  If students have jobs or after school activities, the asynchronous work may not even be started until after 8 p.m.  In the same survey that was mentioned before, 53.5 percent of the participants answered that they do their homework around eight or nine p.m. which is a late start time.  Even worse, 39.5 percent reported that they start at 10 p.m. or later.  

Having a late start time means that it probably will not be much before midnight until the student has some time to go to bed before doing it again the next day.  This could be due to students putting off the asynchronous work or they might have no choice but to start late because they have to do other things after the school day ends.  An article written from the Walden University said, “Sleep deprivation affects the academic performance of online university students, and students who have family responsibilities and a full-time job have a higher prevalence of sleep deprivation.”  When the students are unable to get the sleep they need, it will be a continuous downhill trend of their work ethic and ability to maintain some sort of motivation.

The causes of sleep deprivation with e-learning are different for each student, but the most common reasons for that is they receive too much asynchronous work and they feel like they have too much screen time.  In the survey 62.1 percent of students reported that they struggled from both of these reasons.  

The solution is currently in the works because starting next week the Hybrid system will be put into play, but that could sway either direction.  Some students may get more sleep because they will spend their day in a classroom for two days of the week.  However, many would argue that they are actually getting more sleep with the current e-learning plan because they get to wake up later.  As the weeks go on, conclusions will be made about whether staying online may have been the right choice in order to somewhat benefit the students.