NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Social-distancing and lockdown affecting students’ sleep habits

Online students get more screen time and have a more flexible schedule, but this may be affecting the sleeping habits of students.

An Italian study published May 15 in the  Journal of Sleep Research found that,  “…during home confinement, sleep timing markedly changed, with people going to bed and waking up later, and spending more time in bed, but, paradoxically, also reporting a lower sleep quality.”

With more time at home people find it harder to sleep even though there is ample opportunity for rest.

Four NECC students detail their issues with sleep since the beginning of social distancing and isolation protocols brought on by the spread of the novel coronavirus which began with the first case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, in China in late 2019.

Violette Smith, 16, of Groveland is in the early college program.

“My sleep schedule was consistent. But since lockdown it’s been harder to stick to it,” Smith says “…days are less structured than they were before.”

Smith explains her sleeping habits during the pandemic, “I’ve been sleeping in. I’ve also been staying up later to get work done. I don’t have a consistent sleep schedule at all.”

Smith says she has been getting less sleep of poorer quality, “ I do think I’m getting less sleep because of this…and I always feel super tired…Even when I get a good number of hours in,”

Mariam Saldivar, 20, of Lawrence says she doesn’t wake up feeling recharged and her sleep schedule is disordered, as well as her body and mental state.

Saldivar says, “The days just kinds seem to blur together now.”

Saldivar says she is not going out to socialize or for work and spending most of her time at home means she doesn’t “…necessarily have to wake up early for anything.”  She attributes the reason for sleep disturbance to having too much time on her hands.

Mirrorajah Metcalfe, 19, of Haverhill says her sleep habits have changed because of isolation. “My sleep schedule has been very unpredictable and all over the place since covid. Some days I get more sleep and others, less.”

She also says she wakes up feeling “sluggish” some days and “motivated” on others. Metcalfe says she doesn’t “…go out very much aside from work.”

Nisaly Gonzalez, 22, of North Andover says she has been sleeping more since the start of the pandemic and has been “…feeling tired during the day…”

Gonzalez also says that she has been waking up during sleep and finds it “…much harder to go back to sleep” when she wakes up.

Students are experiencing sleep disruptions which they say are caused by the isolated conditions brought on by the pandemic. Students unable to get enough sleep or not getting restful sleep shows that lockdown conditions have had varied effects on public health, mental and physical.

Students already face an increased amount of stress and anxiety due to the pressures of school and it is well known that sleep is a vital factor to maintain mental and physical health.