Hybrid impacts sleep schedules differently

Kris Long, Sports Editor

Some claim students are getting more sleep because hybrid more naturally aligns with teenagers’ sleep schedules, others claim they are getting less because sleep patterns are messed up when students aren’t at school five days a week. 

The way sleep schedules are impacted by hybrid is consistently brought up at USD 383 Board of Education meetings.  

In a survey conducted by The Mentor, to which 609 students responded, the majority of students (38%) reported getting less sleep in hybrid. 32% reported getting more and 24% were about the same. But, there was no consensus on why students were getting more or less sleep, especially as 60% of students said that they “liked being able to sleep in on remote days” specifically because they “got more sleep” on those days. Of the students that said they got more sleep, 79% said they also liked sleeping in on their remote days. That suggests the amount of work for hybrid students means they are getting more sleep on days they don’t start face-to-face at 7:40 a.m., but less sleep overall.

“In previous years, the amount of work outside of school was manageable and allowed me to focus on other endeavors if I so chose,” freshman Cooper Ackerman said. “This year, the workload outside of class is extremely high and requires me to structure my schedule around, meaning I have to make decisions on how to spend my time that I shouldn’t have to make. When all the teachers assign about one to half an hour of work per remote day, the workload is far too much to manage on a regular sleep schedule. I have had to sacrifice many things that should just be common life in order to finish work.”

There is clear evidence that starting a regular structured school day later in the morning is beneficial to adolescents, because teenagers’ biological rhythms naturally set our sleep schedules back from adults. Junction City has even moved its start date back for secondary students. However, the hybrid model isn’t giving all students a chance to get more sleep. 

“For the life course over the teen years, oh my gosh, yes [sleep is important],” K-State Youth Development expert Eliane Johannes said. “Science is clear that in development adolescent years require there to be more sleep… There’s a general consensus that for the adolescent years, which are the high school years, sleep is so important.”

A host of negative consequences come for the students who are getting less sleep in hybrid. Sleep-deprived teens have a higher risk of poor academic achievement, mental health issues and risky decision making. There are other important data points to be considered from our school specifically. Of the 142 survey respondents who said they were getting more sleep in hybrid than in regular school, 83% of them answered that their social emotional health has increased (a four or five on Liker scale) due to hybrid. Conversely, of the 231 students who said they got less sleep in hybrid, 51% said hybrid had a negative impact on their social-emotional health, while 34% said it stayed the same. 

Lack of sleep isn’t a problem solved or caused by hybrid scheduling. Only 21% of survey respondents reported getting upwards of eight hours of sleep per night in hybrid, which is the recommended amount for high school aged students. This is down from 28% who said they got eight or more in previous years. More flexible scheduling appears to have little impact on this major health concern, which begs the question, what will?